State body investigates University of Louisville Hospital after physician complaints

The same staffing cuts that caused a prominent surgeon to say the University of Louisville Hospital in Kentucky has "unsafe working conditions" seem to have also triggered an investigation by the state's Office of Inspector General, according to the Courier-Journal.

Louisville-based KentuckyOne Hospital and Englewood, Colo.-based Catholic Health Initiatives laid off 500 employees in Louisville and eliminated 200 vacant positions in an effort to cut costs in 2014. At the time, KentuckyOne said the effect on patient care would be minimal.

Then, in January of this year, the Joint Commission found 31 problems within the hospital, according to the Courier-Journal. And, most recently, J. David Richardson, MD, the hospital's vice chair of surgery, sent an email to university officials detailing understaffing issues. Other physicians told the Courier-Journal of issues with traveling nurses, who the physicians feel are not well-trained.

Now, the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services' Office of Inspector General, which investigates the state's hospitals on behalf of CMS, has an open investigation of ULH, according to the report.

In a statement provided to Becker's, KentuckyOne Health, which took over management of ULH in late 2012, said the system is waiting for the investigation's results. "We have already assembled a working group which will evaluate and address any specific points and recommendations as soon as they are received," the statement reads.

The University of Louisville spokesman Gary Mans told the Courier-Journal the university has started discussions with the health system "to do what it takes to ensure that nursing and support staff levels are sufficient to provide patients with the bedside care they need and deserve."

The statement from KentuckyOne given to Becker's reads, "We are always committed to quality and safety and have been investing significant resources to continually improve key areas of hospital performance. Guidance from outside organizations such as the OIG and Joint Commission is helpful to us as we build on our success and ensure our physicians, nurses and all employees are supported in their work."

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