Calif. Hospital Loses Medicare Funds for Patient Safety Violations

MURRIETA, Calif.

Officials for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced plans to terminate Southwest Healthcare System’s Medicare reimbursements by June 1, two days after the hospital received three fines totaling $225,000 for serious patient safety violations.

Southwest Healthcare was one of seven California hospitals to receive fines from the California Department of Public Health, reports California Healthline. Southwest Healthcare, which received three fines, became the first in the state to receive a $100,000 sanction.

Officials said state and federal regulators acted independently. CMS officials said the decision to cut off the hospital’s Medicare funding stems from a Jan. 19 inspection that discovered Southwest Healthcare was not in compliance with nine requirements necessary for Medicare funding. One of those violations included the removal and failure to replace an alarm system in the newborn nursery designed to prevent newborn abductions and posted security guard out of sight of the nursery.

A spokeswoman for Southwest said hospital officials are talking with federal regulators to avoid losing funding; however, CMS officials said the hospital had three years to address patient safety issues, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The hospital system can appeal the decision and can have a hearing with an administrative law judge. The hospital can apply for reinstatement if the funding is terminated.

CMS said Southwest would need to develop an aggressive plan of action to reverse the decision.

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