The CMS has indefinitely delayed plans to strip federal funding from Hopkins County Memorial Hospital in East Texas. The hospital had given psychotropic medications to the wrong patients and struggled to keep medical equipment sterile.
Concern about Hopkins County was first raised following an August on-site inspection by the Texas Department of State Health Services, which reported that psychotropic medications were given to patients who should not have been receiving them.
One patient diagnosed with neuroleptic malignant syndrome had been given a psychotropic medication that resulted in the patient becoming unresponsive and requiring intubation, according to federal documents. According to the National Institutes of Health, the syndrome is an adverse reaction to neuroleptic or antipsychotic drugs.
Texas health officials conducted a follow-up and full survey visit in September and again identified problems. This time it noted the hospital failed to provide a safe, sanitary environment to avoid the possible transmission of infectious diseases, federal documents said. Endoscopic and surgical instruments were not properly sterilized in accordance to the manufacturer's recommendation. Staff designated to conduct the sterilization of endoscopes and surgical instruments did not have knowledge of sterilization processes.
The CMS notified the hospital in October that it planned to strip the hospital of federal reimbursement by Nov. 6 due to the care issues. Before the enforcement date, the agency extended the termination date to Nov. 30, in order to execute a systems improvement agreement to correct the issues.
Hospital officials confirmed that termination from the Medicare program was stayed after the SIA agreement was signed Nov. 24.
Last month, the CMS announced it would terminate Medicare and Medicaid funding at St. Joseph Medical Center a 374-bed facility in Houston after the facility was found in violation of four protocols for Medicare participation: governing body, patient rights, nursing services and infection control.
The citations came after a patient earlier this year was tased, shot and handcuffed by two hospital security staff members who were also police officers.
The hospital entered into an agreement last week so that it can continue to get funds until Jan. 15 to give it time to execute an SIA, according to a spokesperson for Iasis Healthcare, St. Joseph's parent company, and the CMS.
In August, the CMS finalized its decision to terminate its provider agreement with Timberlawn Mental Health System, which operates a 144-bed psychiatric hospital in Dallas and a 72-bed unit in Garland.
It lost funds due to numerous patient-safety concerns after a beneficiary death and several patient assaults. The facility announced in September it was working to make improvements so that it could re-enroll into Medicare and Medicaid.
CMS officials feel that all three situations highlight the weight of the funding enforcement tool in getting hospitals to provide optimal patient care.
“Our concern is to make sure that these facilities meet (Medicare and Medicaid) standards,” said Bob Moos, a CMS spokesman. “Patient safety is our priority.”