Medical errors have led the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations to lower the ratings of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and suburban Quincy (Mass.) Hospital. The JCAHO announced last week that it downgraded Quincy to "conditional accreditation," which amounts to probation. On May 20, surgeons at the hospital removed the wrong kidney from a 76-year-old woman, who since has been discharged from the hospital. Investigators said the surgeons didn't check X-rays before operating. Hospital officials said a corrective plan of action has been established. Brigham and Women's rating was dropped one notch to "accreditation with recommendations for improvement." A 67-year-old man died there last Dec. 17, apparently from a potassium overdose. A temporary agency nurse who lacked intensive-care experience gave the man too much potassium in too short a time. Hospital officials said they have made changes and reduced the use of temporary nurses.
Fresenius AG, a German medical technology company, has agreed to divest a U.S. medical solution manufacturing plant to settle antitrust problems stemming from its proposed acquisition of Waltham, Mass.-based National Medical Care, the kidney dialysis unit of W.R. Grace & Co. Both NMC and Fresenius make hemodialysis concentrate, a solution used in kidney dialysis. The Federal Trade Commission said an NMC-Fresenius deal would give the company too much control of the market for that solution in the United States. The settlement with the FTC is the latest legal hurdle cleared by the companies, whose deal is expected to close by year-end (June 24, p. 28).
Primary Health Systems plans to buy a second community hospital in Pennsylvania's Delaware Valley. The Wayne, Pa.-based system last week announced a letter of intent to acquire Lower Bucks Hospital in Bristol, Pa. Terms weren't disclosed. The 290-bed community hospital will anchor the eastern edge of the system Primary Health is building in the greater Philadelphia area, said Robert W. Fleming, president and chief executive officer of the private, for-profit system. Primary Health has moorings in the center of the region, having signed a letter of intent to buy 189-bed Roxborough Memorial Hospital in Philadelphia. The plan is to acquire a total of 1,500 beds in the area, and Primary Health has talked to several hospital officials in the market, Fleming said. Although he wouldn't disclose terms of the Lower Bucks transaction, Fleming said the purchase price will enable the hospital to pay off $50 million of debt.
Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word Healthcare System, Houston, has reached agreement with Magnolia (Ark.) Hospital to take over operation of the facility. The board of commissioners of the city-owned 70-bed hospital considered proposals from Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp. and Baptist Medical Center in Little Rock, Ark., before unanimously choosing Sisters of Charity. Financial terms of the affiliation agreement weren't disclosed. It will take several months to work out detailed arrangements. Magnolia is the only hospital in its town, which is 55 miles southeast of Texarkana, Texas. The Sisters of Charity system owns and operates eight hospitals and four long-term-care facilities in Louisiana, Texas, Utah and Ireland.