Two DMC hospitals fail follow-up inspections

Karen Bouffard
The Detroit News
Detroit Receiving

Detroit — Two Detroit Medical Center hospitals face the potential loss of federal funding this spring after failing two inspections, according to government documents obtained by The Detroit News. 

The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Funding sent preliminary letters of determination to Harper University Hospital and Detroit Receiving Hospital on Jan. 15, saying the hospitals do not meet federal requirements for their "physical environment" to participate in Medicare, the federal health insurance program for elderly and disabled Americans. The hospitals were given projected termination dates of April 15.

Detailed results of the Dec. 13 inspections were not yet open to the public, according to CMS. 

DMC officials did not immediately respond for comment Monday.

Michigan hospitals barred from participation in Medicare are automatically terminated from the federal Medicaid program for low-income residents, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. The majority of patients served by DMC hospitals are funded by the federal health insurance programs. 

The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs also inspected Harper and Receiving in October, on behalf of CMS, after three cardiologists and the top doctor at DMC Heart Hospital claimed they were terminated from their management roles in retaliation for complaints they made about quality-of-care issues. Heart Hospital adjoins Harper and shares many of its facilities and services. 

The inspection at Harper found flying insects in an intensive care unit, improperly attired surgical personnel and lapses in sterile processing of surgical instruments. 

At Receiving, inspectors discovered the hospital had discontinued surveillance of most surgical site infections due to staff cuts in 2018, including for patients exposed to dirty surgical instruments. 

Both Harper and Receiving were found not in compliance with Medicare's conditions of participation for infection control and threatened with termination. The Dec. 13 inspections were to follow up on the October surveys. 

DMC Sinai-Grace Hospital spent most of last year in jeopardy of losing its federal Medicare funding after inspections found "significant" deficiencies in nursing care and building safety, according to government reports obtained by The Detroit News.

Sinai-Grace lost its Medicare-compliant status for nursing care in March and for the hospital's "physical environment" in April after the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services requested inspections in response to a substantiated complaint. The hospital ultimately was able to regain its Medicare status in September, and the termination was rescinded. 

Medicare termination is rare in the country, where the number of hospitals terminated has decreased annually since 2015 when nine hospitals lost their funding. Two hospitals in the U.S. were terminated in 2018, and three in 2017, according to CMS.

The federal agency nationally has investigated about 3,500 complaints annually since 2013.

Twitter: @kbouffardDN