Federal Investigators Threaten to Defund Houston Hospital

Published: October 5, 2015

Federal investigators threatened to pull funding for Medicare and Medicaid services from St. Joseph Medical Center on Sept. 23 after investigating an incident where a mentally ill patient was shot by an off-duty police officer working as a hospital security officer, reports the Houston Press.

On Aug. 26 two hospital security officers walked into patient Alan Pean’s hospital room unannounced, closing the door behind them. Pean had a history of manic depressive disorder and anxiety disorder. When Pean grew combative, the officers Tased him and eventually one officer shot him in the chest after Pean hit the officer in the head with a hospital tray. The officers then handcuffed Pean.

During interviews with hospital staff, workers told Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) investigators the patient lost his patient status when he became uncooperative and aggressive. Hospital CEO Mark Bernard also told investigators that he feels the security officer was justified in using his weapon and going into “police mode.”

Three weeks after the investigation was completed, CMS instructed the St. Joseph Medical Center to correct any deficiencies in its security procedures, which were characterized as “putting patients in immediate jeopardy.” The hospital has until Oct. 8 to revamp its security plans.

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In the hospital’s incident report, the CFO deemed the investigation a “criminal investigation” and said the St. Joseph’s protocols no longer applied.

The hospital says it plans to develop a Behavioral Emergency Response Team and has revised its Commissioned Peace Officer job description after CMS accused it of failing to properly train its hospital security guards.

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