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Analysis

Vanderbilt's Medicare Status Threatened After Patient Death

By John Commins  
   November 29, 2018

The Nashville-based medical center, a key provider of healthcare services in Middle Tennessee, was told it will lose its Medicare accreditation early next month.

Vanderbilt University Medical Center has been told that it will be cut from the Medicare program next week in the wake of a medication error last year that led to a patient's death.

"The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has determined that Vanderbilt University Medical Center is not in compliance with the conditions of participation," Linda Smith, associate regional administrator at the Department of Health and Human Services Division of Survey and Certification said in a one-page public notice issued this week,.

"The Medicare program will not make payment for hospital services to patients who are admitted after Dec. 9, 2018," Smith said. 

Specifically, the notice cited VUMC for failing to meet the conditions of participation involving patients' rights and nursing services. No further details were provided, and CMS did not respond to requests for more information about the case.

However, VUMC Chief Communications Officer John Howser said the alleged infractions came after a patient death last December.

The statement issued by VUMC reads as follows:

VUMC was notified of an adverse finding by the Tennessee Department of Health after an on-site survey involving a patient who died in December 2017 following a medication error.

In reviewing the event at the time it happened, we identified that the error occurred because a staff member had bypassed multiple safety mechanisms that were in place to prevent such errors.

We disclosed the error to the patient's family as soon as we confirmed that an error had occurred, and immediately took necessary corrective actions (including appropriate personnel actions).

We will continue to work closely with representatives of Tennessee Department of Health and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to assure that any remaining concerns are fully resolved within the specified time frame.  

“CMS has determined that Vanderbilt University Medical Center is not in compliance with the conditions of participation.”

John Commins is a senior editor at HealthLeaders.


KEY TAKEAWAYS

VUMC admits staff member 'bypassed multiple safety mechanisms' in patient's 2017 medication-related death.

The health system vows to work with state and federal officials to address patient safety concerns.


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