Mount Carmel hospitals still in danger of losing Medicare funding, health agency says

File photo - Mount Carmel West (WBNS-10TV)

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services told Mount Carmel Health System in letters dated February 22nd that its two hospitals are still out of compliance with the terms of conditions to receive federal Medicare funding.

While Mount Carmel West and St. Ann's both had their “immediate jeopardy” status removed last week after submitting plans of correction in wake of the patient overdose scandal, CMS has determined there were still too many issues at hand.

"We have determined that the deficiencies cited are significant and limit your hospital's capacity to render adequate care and to ensure the health and safety of your patients..." the letters stated.

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CMS is now calling for the Ohio Department of Health to conduct a more thorough review of the hospitals to ensure that they are in compliance with all the Medicare terms of participation.

A CMS official offered this explanation to 10 Investigates:

“Patient care and safety are top priorities for CMS. While the immediate jeopardy to patient health and safety has been removed at both Mount Carmel St. Ann’s and at Mount Carmel West, condition level non-compliance remains at both facilities. Previous surveys were limited in scope to the complaint surrounding pharmaceutical services. The new survey CMS has authorized will review all areas of the Medicare Conditions of Participation at both facilities. A plan of correction for the outstanding non-compliance is not required at this time due to the upcoming full survey. However, the facilities may submit one should they choose to do so. Following the full survey, CMS will provide both facilities with a 2567 report. Should non-compliance remain, a plan of correction may be required.”

The results of follow-up surveys and additional plans of correction could help determine if Mount Carmel holds onto its federal funding and remains able to participate in the Medicare program. Losing that funding could potentially have a crippling effect, sources tell 10 Investigates.

Thirty-five patients who died between 2014 and 2018 are believed to have been given excessive doses of pain medication.

All were under the care of Dr. William Husel - who the hospital fired in December following an internal investigation.

The initial plans of correction submitted to CMS last month detailed how state inspectors found that in 24 of the 27 patient cases reviewed Dr. Husel used an override function on a medication dispensing machine to bypass the hospital’s pharmacy and gain access to large doses of pain medications.

The hospital has said that most of the patients were near death and in intensive care. But on Friday, Mount Carmel announced that five patients’ conditions could have been potentially saved with treatment.

Since 10 Investigates broke the news of the scandal on January 14:

  • the hospital has said that 23 staffers were also removed from patient care and placed on leave.
  • 34 of those patients were at Mount Carmel West.
  • 1 of them was at Mount Carmel St. Ann's in Westerville.
  • 21 wrongful death lawsuits have been filed
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