Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, Los Angeles, has filed a $125 million lawsuit against Los Angeles County for allegedly undermining its long-standing affiliation with Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center, Los Angeles.
The medical school had contracted with the county since 1972 to supply medical interns and residents to King/Drew in exchange for monthly payments.
But county officials last year agreed to transfer control of the problem-plagued teaching hospital to 322-bed Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, Torrance, hoping to save it after years of mismanagement, failed inspections and patient deaths linked to poor care. Under the deal, the former 257-bed King/Drew was converted into a 42-bed community inpatient facility with basic services.
According to the lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, the county breached its contract and sabotaged Charles R. Drews partnership with King/Drew by continually failing to operate the hospital in compliance with the standards of federal, state and independent accrediting agencies.
The suit also alleges that the radical and draconian downsizing of the hospitalnow renamed Martin Luther King Jr./Harbor Hospitalforced the medical school to voluntarily withdraw its accreditation for its residency programs. As a result, the school cannot accept new residents until it reapplies for accreditation in 2008. Meanwhile, some 170 residents have been left in educational limbo until the school finds placements in other hospitals, according to the lawsuit. Calls to the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, which oversees MLK/Harbor, were not returned by deadline. -- by Laura B. Benko