Healthcare News & Insights

Largest fine ever levied against a Texas hospital

Patient safety and quality-of-care issues have landed one Texas hospital with a record fine of $1 million.

Parkland Health and Hospital System was already operating under a federal agreement with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS) after an inspection last summer revealed violations in infection control, emergency care and other areas.

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, according to the Associated Press. But as part of the agreement, Parkland has to:

  • provide the state health department with monthly progress reports on their progress toward getting back into compliance, and
  • inform the state health department of any “reportable adverse events” within two business days of becoming aware of the incident.

The findings

At Parkland, numerous on-site surveys and complaint investigations from January 2011 to May 2012 revealed a number of serious findings. Here are some specific ones that were unearthed:

  • an improper amputation of a patient’s leg
  • inappropriate restraint and seclusion of a psychiatric patient who subsequently died
  • a patient started a fire in a psychiatric emergency department
  • a patient carrying a loaded revolver in the emergency department
  • a medical resident pulling the wrong teeth from a patient whose teeth were damaged in a traffic accident
  • a male nurse who unnecessarily assessed the genitalia of a male patient who was admitted for an infected finger
  • failure to adequately staff nurses in certain areas
  • failure to make sure infection control methods were used, and
  • inadequate cleaning in operating rooms.

So it would seem that the fine fits due to the seriousness of the violations.

In a statement released by the hospital, the facility took responsibility for its compliance issues and noted that it’s currently working on a Systems Improvement Agreement with CMS that’ll improve safety and quality of care.

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