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Physician-owned specialty hospital probe shows lapses
Following the deaths of two patients at specialty hospitals owned by physicians — in both cases, the patients suffered complications following surgery, no physician was on duty, and the specialty hospitals called 9-1-1 to respond — the Senate Finance Committee asked the Office of Inspector General (OIG) to evaluate patient care at 109 physician-owned specialty hospitals in the United States, and the OIG report, released in January, has raised concerns for patient safety.
According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), hospitals receiving Medicare must meet standards that include: having a physician present or on call at all times; 24-hour nursing supervision; written policies for handling emergency care; and not relying on 9-1-1 as a substitute for their own emergency services.
The study drew on four primary sources of data: 1) a review of physician and nurse staffing schedules for eight sampled days; 2) a review of hospitals' staffing policies; 3) a review of hospitals' policies for managing medical emergencies; and 4) structured interviews with administrators at each hospital. The OIG found:
Based on the findings, the OIG is recommending that CMS:
The OIG report is available on-line at finance.senate.gov.