While medication errors, infection control lapses and patient falls are among the most common causes of preventable patient deaths, lack of safe, standardized food handling procedures also pose a deadly risk, as Central Louisiana State Hospital recently learned.
A food poisoning outbreak in May led to three patient deaths, resulting in a management shake-up this week and the potential loss of the Pineville-based facility's Medicare certification. Dietary services staff apparently served improperly stored chicken salad that was infected with a common form of food poisoning, clostridium perfringens. In addition to three deaths, the incident sickened 42 patients and 12 staff members, The Town Talk newspaper reported.
State health officials heaped scathing criticism onto the hospital after surveying the hospital and uncovering serious operational process and management deficiencies that stretched beyond the facility's dietary services area into the overall operation of the hospital.
"Major changes are necessary," said Alan Levine, who heads up the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, the newspaper reported. "The findings across the board raise real concerns related to overall management that go beyond the food service area."
The hospital's administrator and associate administrator were ousted from their jobs as a result. In addition, CMS has found that the hospital is not in compliance with all of Medicare's Conditions of Participation; a finding that could jeopardize the facility's Medicare certification.