CMS-ordered report, withheld by hospital, reveals hundreds of deficiencies

When Ryan McNeill of The Dallas Morning News recently wrote for AHCJ about that paper’s investigation into patient care and safety at Parkland Memorial Hospital, he noted that the institution narrowly avoided being shut down by the federal government by agreeing to a rare form of oversight.

That oversight included a requirement that the hospital undergo outside monitoring that was carried out by the Alvarez & Marsal Healthcare Industry Group and paid for with about $7 million in taxpayer money.

When Parkland received the federally mandated report, dated Feb. 2, its governing board refused to release it to the public, “citing a fear that it could be used against the embattled public facility in court.”

Now we know why it was loathe for people to see its contents.

The Dallas Morning News has independently obtained a copy of the report and posted it online. It details hundreds of problems throughout the hospital.

Among the findings: Patient rooms were found to contain overflowing trash bins, excrement and blood. Hundreds of medications were improperly administered to patients. Dozens of beds remained empty despite crushes of patients seeking emergency care. Senior leaders kept critical information from the hospital’s board of managers. One patient died, apparently after receiving a drug without doctors’ orders.

Even after the hospital came under scrutiny, patients continued to be harmed, according to the 315-page report: “Considering that Parkland knows it has been under intense scrutiny by the State, CMS and the ICE for the past few months, the number of negative patient events that have occurred just since November 8, 2011 is surprising.”

Perhaps the most disturbing thing about the report is the conclusion that hospital employees do not share a sense of urgency and that  “Large parts of the organization still operate in a business-as-usual mode.”

A CMS representative described the report as a “chilling account.” Monitors said Parkland’s “culture has failed in accountability, from top to bottom.” A Morning News editorial says the report is “scathing in its indictment of a once-respected safety-net hospital.”

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