KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Texas Hospitals Under Scrutiny: Parkland’s Record Penalty

Texas officials fined Dallas' Parkland Memorial Hospital a record $1 million for patient safety violations in the wake of intense federal oversight.

Associated Press: Parkland, Health Department Reach Settlement
Texas health officials levied a record $1 million fine against a Dallas County hospital after an investigation into complaints, including an improper surgery follow-up that resulted in a patient's leg being amputated and the death of psychiatric patient who was improperly restrained. Parkland Health and Hospital System said the fine was part of an agreement with the Texas Department of State Health Services to dismiss any potential litigation or enforcement actions for compliance issues prior to the end of May 2012 (Stengle, 8/31).

The Dallas Morning News: Parkland Hit With Largest Fine In Texas History For Patient Safety Violations
Parkland agreed to pay $1 million for what the Department of State Health Services described as "egregious deficiencies," including unsafe staffing levels, systemic infection-control breakdowns and "failure to comply with local, state and federal law."…. U.S. authorities put the hospital under a rare, intense form of oversight last fall after finding widespread patient-safety problems. Parkland must demonstrate sustainable reforms by April 2013 or lose hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding (Egerton and Dunklin, 8/31).

Modern Healthcare: Parkland To Pay Texas $1 Million In Settlement
In addition to the $1 million assessment, the 690-bed hospital agreed to a number of conditions for two years. These include providing the health services department with progress reports showing the hospital's efforts to return to compliance with the Medicare and Medicaid conditions of participation and giving the department information on the system's quality-assurance and performance-improvement program (Lee, 8/31).

Other hospitals deal with quality and data privacy issues as well:

Houston Chronicle: Ratings Show Some Surprises About Houston Hospitals
Show up at Methodist West Houston Hospital with chest pain, and a government database suggests you will find out if you are having a heart attack within 60 seconds. … The government figures, produced by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, show that the county's public hospital district and several suburban hospitals scored well on key measures, including the pivotal rating of how quickly potential heart attack patients are diagnosed. And some of the best-known hospitals in the Texas Medical Center scored below the national average in a number of categories (Kever, 9/1).

Houston Chronicle: Medical Data Loss Remains A Problem At Hospitals
The recent loss of a thumb drive that endangered the personal information of 2,200 patients at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center was one of 10 similar losses of personal data from hospitals in the Houston area over the last three years. An inattention to data security is a persistent problem in the health care industry that is starting to draw increased scrutiny from federal and state officials, with fines for exposing patient information ranging in the millions of dollars and officials being jailed in some instances, experts say (Rice, 9/3).

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