Long-term, acute-care hospital suspends patient admissions

With the General Accountability Office now investigating the nation's long-term acute-care (LTAC) hospitals at the behest of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, it's no real surprise that state survey agencies are paying extremely close attention to LTAC hospitals, and that more problems are being uncovered. New England Sinai Hospital in Stoughton, Mass., has stopped admitting new patients after a survey inspection discovered widespread patient safety concerns, according to the Boston Globe. Inspectors found that staff at the 212-bed hospital didn't provide appropriate wound care and follow infection control procedures, improperly restrained patients, and incorrectly placed an intravenous line for one patient.

State health officials recommended that the LTAC hospital suspend new admissions, and New England Sinai agreed to do so, says Alice Bonner, director of the Bureau of Health Care Safety and Quality. The safety problems are "happening in so many different areas'' that extensive staff training is needed. "Taking new admissions would take the staff away from doing this work,'' she says.

State investigators discovered the safety problems during an inspection for an incident involving a patient's immediate jeopardy. Bonner wouldn't discuss the specific case, citing patient confidentiality. However, New England Sinai has been involved in at least two serious cases, acknowledges Judith Waterston, president. In one case, a nurse compromised the blood supply to a patient's foot by placing an intravenous line in the foot. In another case, the hospital failed to immediately report the deterioration of a patient's wound, she says.

The hospital has 21 days to correct the problems, or its license will be in jeopardy, says Bonner. The hospital has hired a consulting company to help develop new policies and procedures.

To learn more about the hospital's survey:
- read the Boston Globe article

To learn more about the GAO investigation:
- here's the Senate Finance Committee press release