Federal inspection underway at two DMC hospitals after dirty instruments complaint

Karen Bouffard
The Detroit News
DMC Harper University Hospital

State investigators inspected Detroit Medical Center's Children's Hospital of Michigan as well as Harper University Hospital Tuesday in response to quality of care concerns raised by doctors.

The allegations were made earlier this month after the DMC publicly announced that three cardiologists and the top medical executive at DMC Heart Hospital were asked to step down from their leadership roles for unspecified violations of standards of conduct. 

The terminated physicians said they were fired for voicing concerns about quality of care at the DMC, including mistakes by another doctor that resulted in a patient's death and continued problems with dirty surgical instruments. 

The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services confirmed last week that they authorized a federal inspection in response to the allegations, and contracted with state regulators to conduct an investigation.  

Pardeep Toor, spokesman for the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA), confirmed that state inspectors were on-site at DMC Childrens' Hospital of Michigan and Harper University Hospital Tuesday "on behalf of CMS," the federal health agency.

"We cannot comment further on an ongoing investigation," Toor said.

Failed inspections can result in the loss of federal Medicare and Medicaid funding if serious problems aren't fixed. 

CMS also has the power to shutter hospitals or ban them from providing some medical services. Serious violations can result in the loss of hospital accreditation.

“We appreciate the opportunity to work collaboratively with inspectors during their survey, which began today," the DMC said Tuesday in a statement provided by Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare, the DMC's for-profit owner.

"We are committed to providing our patients with safe, high-quality care and continuing to implement effective protocols and procedures in our hospitals to improve the standard of care we deliver."

The DMC has insisted the cardiologists and hospital executive were demoted or let go because of "violations of our Standards of Conduct." The leadership changes were made after "a thorough review led by outside counsel into complaints from other physicians and team members," the health system has said previously.

The DMC has been plagued for more than a decade by problems with dirty surgical instruments, according to a six-month Detroit News investigation published in August 2016.

The health system subsequently failed state and federal inspections at several of its hospitals and was threatened with the loss of federal funding before the problems were corrected.

In the latest incident, the DMC confirmed that a tray of dirty instruments was discovered by an orthopedic surgeon more than one month ago, but said no patients were exposed. 


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