Grady faces inspection after deadly fall

Print Friendly and PDF By: Andy Miller Published: Sep 30, 2011 GHN Exclusive

A federal agency told Grady Memorial Hospital officials this week that it will conduct an unannounced survey of the Atlanta safety-net facility in the wake of a patient’s death in a fall from an 11th-floor window.

The visit, which could occur at any time, is to ensure that Grady meets the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) ‘‘Conditions of Participation’’ –  to continue to receive funding from Medicare and Medicaid.

Grady spokesman Matt Gove told GHN in a statement that the announcement of the upcoming CMS visit is not a surprise.

“We expected this following the unfortunate incident in early September when a patient either fell or jumped to her death from a hospital window,’’ the statement said.

Atlanta police and Grady immediately launched investigations after the death of Gloria Shavers, 60, of Atlanta. She had been in Grady for two weeks being treated for seizures, according to an article by myfoxatlanta.com.

Just after the tragedy, Grady issued a statement saying it was ‘‘deeply saddened’’ by the death and extending ‘‘our heart-felt sympathies to the patient’s family.’’

“Windows in patient rooms are designed only to be opened by technicians for maintenance, repairs or other needs,’’ the statement said. “We are trying to determine exactly how the patient was able to get the window open. We are working diligently to uncover all the circumstances that led up to this terrible accident.”

It’s common for CMS to make an unannounced survey after such an event. Survey inspectors often find deficiencies in care during visits. So-called ‘‘immediate jeopardy’’ findings — the most serious problems — are less common.

The end result, whatever the findings, is that almost all hospitals fix the problems and don’t lose funding.

Ironically, John Haupert, who takes over as Grady’s CEO on Monday, comes from Parkland Memorial Hospital, a Dallas facility that has been engulfed in a CMS investigation into patient care problems, and which recently averted a cutoff of federal funds after a similar unannounced survey.

CMS surveyors arrived in July to inspect Parkland for eight days, and found significant deficiencies in infection control, nursing services, medical records and other areas. On Aug. 9, the agency notified the hospital that it was in “immediate jeopardy” of losing Medicare funding if it failed to address the problems to CMS’ satisfaction.

Haupert has been serving as chief operating officer at Parkland. GHN wrote about the Parkland problems in this August article.

Parkland signed an agreement with CMS this week that will allow the Dallas facility to stay open while it attempts to remedy deficiencies that put it at risk of closure.

The CMS agreement gives Parkland 19 months to get back into compliance. Under terms of the agreement, a determination on whether Parkland can continue to receive Medicare and Medicaid funding is on hold. Here’s a Dallas Business Journal article on the settlement.

CMS hospital surveys can last several days, and can include observation of patient care, staff and patient interviews, review of medical records and policies and inspection of the physical environment.

The Grady statement said preparations are under way for the arrival of the survey team.

Gove, the Grady spokesman, declined any comment beyond what was in the statement.

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