Hospitals Experience Hardships, Including Staff Reductions And Quality Penalties

The Los Angeles Times: "Days after state officials announced that Southwest Healthcare System in Murrieta had received California's first $100,000 fine for putting patients at risk of death or serious injury, federal regulators announced they plan to cut the hospital's Medicare funding June 1. State public health officials also said they had warned Southwest on Thursday that the hospital's 'license is in jeopardy due to ongoing systemic problems and a pattern of life-threatening lapses in care.' The federal action comes after a surprise inspection in January found deficiencies at the hospital in nine areas required for Medicare participation. Regulators wrote in a letter Thursday ... that the inspection showed 'the inability of the hospital's governing body to identify and take appropriate measures to eliminate clear threats to patient health and safety. ... Hospital officials said they were in talks with regulators to avoid losing their funding" (Hennessy-Fiske, 4/16).

San Jose Mercury News/The Associated Press: "Problems have been ongoing since regulators responded to a complaint at the hospital in June 2007, said Medicare regional director of hospital operations Rufus Arther. Among other problems, regulators said the hospital's staff removed and failed to replace an alarm designed to prevent newborn abductions and doctors failed to wear face masks or head coverings to prevent infections in the cardiac catheterization units" (4/15).

The Miami Herald: "A hitch has developed in Jackson's well-crafted plans to cut expenses: County executives want bigger pay cuts than union members agreed to. At a Wednesday meeting of a Public Health Trust committee, Assistant County Manager Alena Tejada Hudak said the mayor and manager had mentioned this issue to Jackson executives 10 days ago and were surprised nothing had apparently been done. ... The discussion happened on a day when several hundred Jackson employees were notified that they had lost their jobs. That included 78 nurses and 15 attending physicians who are members of the Service Employees International Union. Other details were not immediately available" (Dorschner, 4/15).

This is part of Kaiser Health News' Daily Report - a summary of health policy coverage from more than 300 news organizations. The full summary of the day's news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.