Dirty ORs threaten UCLA Medicare funds

Jeopardizing much-needed Medicare dollars and patient safety, Harbor-UCLA Medical Center performed surgeries in unsanitary operating rooms (OR), reports the Los Angeles Times.

A federal inspection of the county-owned hospital revealed serious infection control violations, including holes in OR ceilings, dusty and cluttered areas, and humidity levels that could spread infections.

This prompted inspectors this summer to send a letter, threatening to terminate the hospital's Medicare funding, notes the Los Angeles Times.

As a result, Los Angeles County submitted a correction plan, which included weekly audits of infection control risks and increased staff education on hand-washing policies. The feds have yet to follow up.

But despite the plans to remedy the safety lapses, deficiencies persist because the facility was built back in 1963, Harbor-UCLA CEO Delvecchio Finley told the LA Times. That concern would be addressed by the county's $323 million construction project to replace the hospital's surgical facilities and emergency room in 2013.

Prior to the federal investigation, the California Department of Public Health fined the hospital four times in 2008 and 2009 for medical mistakes that risked patient health and safety (i.e., a labeling mix-up that led to the wrong patient having his prostate removed).

Nevertheless, Harbor-UCLA has enjoyed continued Joint Commission accreditation, regardless of 21 complaints that qualified for review, according to the article.

For more information:
- read the LA Times article