The CMS has cleared Norton Healthcare following an investigation into its safety protocols after an employee in its behavioral health unit used excessive force on patients.
A report released to Modern Healthcare by the CMS Monday detailed incidents of violence by a mental health worker at the Louisville, Ky.-based health system against two patients. In one instance, the employee tackled a patient who took an ink pen from another staff member, using his full body weight to pin the patient on a bed until they dropped the pen.
In another incident, the employee grabbed a patient by the throat and pushed them on a bed after the individual took a swing at nursing staff. The bed rolled back, and the patient's head hit the wall. Security had to pull the staffer off the patient.
CMS surveyors found that Norton Healthcare failed to implement safe physical management in both cases and that neither incident was thoroughly investigated by the healthcare system. In addition, Norton Healthcare officials failed to ensure the facility's policies and procedures prohibiting abuse were implemented and failed to remove the staffer from patient care following the incidents.
"The facility's failure placed [these patients] and others at risk for serious injury, harm, impairment, or death," the report said.Norton Healthcare could have lost its right to bill Medicare by the end of the month due to the issues, according to federal documents.
The employee involved has been removed from the unit and placed on leave, according to Douglas Winkelhake, division president of hospital operations at Norton Healthcare.
The system submitted an action plan to the CMS that includes changing its policies and procedures; increasing monitoring; and improving education and training for restraint procedures.
After reviewing the plan and conducting a site visit, the CMS found the system complied with Medicare standards.
Norton Healthcare is one of the largest healthcare systems in Kentucky with more than 40 clinics and hospitals in the state.
Medicare accounted for 27%, or $575 million, of the system's patient revenue in 2016, which is the last year data are available.