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CMS says RI Hospital is pretty much ok

January 28, 2011

Remember last year when Rhode Island Hospital surgeons left a piece of a drill bit inside a patient’s scalp?  The Department of Health responded by slapping the hospital with a fine and telling the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to take a closer look at the medical center’s operations.

This freaked everyone out because CMS oversees Medicare payments to hospitals.  If the federal agency didn’t approve of what it saw, there was the possibility that RI Hospital could lose its ability to receive money from Medicare.

So CMS arrived in December and took a close look at the hospital- opening up any door or file it pleased.  Finally, the results of that survey are in and according to President and CEO Timothy Babineau, they’re pretty good.  He went into detail about the report in a letter to employees today.

Overall, we are very pleased with the report, as CMS did not identify any patient care related issues that they deemed were so serious as to issue a “condition level” finding. Had such a finding occurred, it would have continued to place our status as a provider for Medicare at risk.  Rather, all of the issues that were identified were so-called “standard level,” which means that the finding does not substantially limit our capacity to provide adequate care, and would not adversely affect the health or safety of patients if the practice or issue recurred.

In the letter, Babineau highlights the few problems CMS did find-

  1. Employing a pharmacist who lacked evidence of an active license. Babineau says this was only the case with an employee who had just been hired and was still in training with lots of supervision.
  2. Pharmacists in the hospital’s Cancer Center couldn’t adequately review the other drugs patients were taking and how those might react with new prescriptions. Babineau’s letter says since that finding, the hospital has reviewed what’s called the drug utilization review process in the Cancer Center and made sure it complies with federal standards.
  3. The hospital didn’t complete discharge planning evaluations on time. Again, Babineau says the hospital is working on reviewing this issue and aims to reach the point where everything is completed on time 100% of the time.

Notice the absence of problems noticed in the hospital’s operating room- the original focus of the Department of Health’s concern.  Babineau emphasizes the fact in his letter-

It is important to note that there were no findings or citations related to our perioperative services environment. This is truly a tribute to the entire perioperative team who work every day to provide our patients the best and safest care.

The actual CMS report is not available.  CMS says it won’t release that document until the hospital responds with a plan of correction or thirty days pass, whatever comes first.  But speaking broadly, a spokeswoman for CMS said the federal agency expects the hospital will successfully make the necessary corrections and its Medicare reimbursements are not in danger.

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