State review of University of Louisville Hospital finds deficiencies

A Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family review of University of Louisville Hospital (Ky.) found overloaded nurses and intensive care deficiencies endangered three patients, Louisville Business First reported.

The agency conducted the review from June 14 to 21, following complaints the vice chair of surgery sent in an email to university officials. J. David Richardson, MD, said ULH presented "unsafe working conditions" and serious patient safety concerns after management was turned over to Englewood, Colo.-based Catholic Health Initiatives and Louisville-based KentuckyOne Health.

The state agency reviewed the care of 24 patients and found deficiencies in three cases. In one case, a critically ill patient requiring access to intensive care was treated in an emergency department room. When the patient began vomiting during intubation, no suction equipment was available in the room, and a nurse had to search for equipment in other rooms. 

KentuckyOne's COO Lisa Shannon told the Courier-Journal the hospital is safe and KentuckyOne has made "tremendous improvements," according to Louisville Business First.

In 2014, KentuckyOne Hospital and Catholic Health Initiatives laid off 500 employees in Louisville and eliminated 200 vacant positions in an effort to cut costs. Then, in January of this year, the Joint Commission found 31 problems within the hospital, according to the Courier-Journal. Other physicians told the Courier-Journal of issues with traveling nurses, who the physicians feel are not well-trained.

Ms. Shannon told the Courier-Journal problems at the hospital are linked to a nationwide nursing shortage and to “unintended consequences” of the aforementioned reduction in force.

The state’s report hasn’t been publicly disclosed yet. KentuckyOne released it to the Courier-Journal. 

KentuckyOne Health reached out to Becker's and provided a statement. The statement reads:

"On Monday, July 11, University of Louisville Hospital leaders submitted a draft action plan and response to the Office of the Inspector General report that was issued following its recent on-site survey at ULH.

We respect and appreciate the OIG report findings. We are taking the report and our actions for improvement very seriously, particularly to address the three of 24 patient cases reviewed by the OIG, which identified areas for improvement to prevent the non-life threatening issues cited.

Our working group (made up of physicians, nurses and leaders from UofL, ULH and KentuckyOne Health) developed the draft response to address specific findings in the report and comments, and to help accelerate our ongoing efforts to support our physicians, nurses, employees and patients. Proposed responses include:

- Process improvements, technology investment and increased communication to support patient care.

- New recruitment and retention initiatives to increase the support for nurses, physicians and all employees in their roles.

ULH is an important part of healthcare in our community; we are proud of the role all our physicians, nurses and employees play in the health of this city. The community should be confident in the safety and quality of care delivered at ULH. We acknowledge that challenges and position eliminations in 2014 increased staff concerns and are focused on future actions to increase staff levels and improve retention.

Implementation of our proposed actions will take place over the coming weeks in collaboration with OIG, nurses, physicians and leadership across ULH, UofL and KentuckyOne Health. As the largest and most comprehensive health system in the Commonwealth, with more than 200 locations including the ULH Academic Medical Center, hospitals, physician groups, clinics, primary care centers, specialty institutes and home health agencies in Kentucky and southern Indiana, we are confident in our ability to effectively implement our action plans. Our partnership with University of Louisville and facilities across Kentucky reinforces this ability to deliver on our mission for wellness, healing and hope to all."

This article was updated to include a statement from KentuckyOne Health. The original did not have the statement. 

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