The flagship hospital of Denver system HealthOne is under review by HCFA after a series of unusual deaths and accidents.
The hospital, 558-bed Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center, could lose accreditation to treat Medicare and Medicaid patients, who account for more than half its $350 million in annual revenues. P/SL has submitted plans to correct deficiencies, and HCFA officials are expected to evaluate its progress next month. The hospital retains accreditation in the meantime.
A HealthOne spokesman said the incidents behind the review aren't evidence of widespread quality problems. The HCFA review addresses 12 specific cases dating to 1992, he said. During that time, P/SL treated 150,000 patients. "We hope to resolve these issues quickly," he said.
HealthOne, Denver's largest system, and Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp. are working out the details of a joint venture (May 15, p. 6). One observer said P/SL's troubles could weaken HealthOne's negotiating position; HealthOne said the HCFA review isn't an issue in negotiations.
In December 1994 a woman who was being treated for a brain tumor died in the P/SL intensive-care unit after a tracheal tube dislodged. This January another brain-cancer patient in the ICU died after he was given the wrong type of blood. Two nurses were disciplined in connection with his death. HealthOne is investigating the other case.
This month a bypass patient died after a heart-lung machine stopped working in surgery, and an infant was burned severely by a heat lamp. Two nurses were disciplined in connection with the infant's injuries. The Food and Drug Administration is investigating the heart-lung machine's failure.
Highly publicized errors have triggered internal and external reviews at other facilities in recent months. At Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, for example, the chief physician resigned following chemotherapy overdoses that killed one patient and injured another (May 15, p. 14).