CMS censures Kaiser hosp. for dodging complaints about MD

A CMS investigation has concluded that if Kaiser Permanente's Fresno hospital had acted on a barrage of complaints about a perinatologist there, two babies might still be alive today. CMS began investigating the hospital in October 2007, after it to came to light that physicians and nurses there had complained about perinatologist Hamid Safari's lack of medical and interpersonal skills as far back as 1998. The hospital had allowed him to continue treating high-risk pregnant women while imposing inadequate restrictions on his practice there, investigators found.

In one of the two cases cited by CMS, an incident taking place in 2004, Safari waited more than three hours before performing a c-section on a patient, despite evidence that the baby was in distress and warnings from nurses that the baby wasn't doing well. (The baby, deprived of oxygen, died a few months later.) In another incident, from April 2005, Safari allegedly severed the spinal cord of a baby, who died, when he used too vigorous an approach in drawing him out with a vacuum extractor.

Since July 2005, Kaiser barred Safari from performing vaginal deliveries and required him to be monitored by another physician or advanced-practice nurse. Late last year, he was also told that he had to make all of his rounds with a high-risk nurse specialist. However, nurses told CMS that Safari hasn't been following the rules, and that the hospital has not enforced them. Meanwhile, the state medical board has accused Safari of gross negligence, and is seeking to revoke or suspend his license.

To find out more about the CMS action:
- read this Los Angeles Times piece

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