Texas cancer center cited for patient care, safety problems

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HOUSTON (AP) — A prominent cancer hospital in Houston will be subject to more aggressive federal oversight after authorities found the facility in violation of serious hospital requirements for patient care and safety.

The clampdown on MD Anderson Cancer Center follows an “adverse event” involving a blood transfusion that was reported in December, the Houston Chronicle reported .

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, noted the problems this month in letters and reports issued following investigations at the facility.

“These deficiencies have been determined to be of such a serious nature as to substantially limit your hospital’s capacity to render adequate care,” one of the letters said.

Details of the deficiencies are contained in the CMS reports, which won’t be made public until CMS submits a corrective actions report next week. The letters, which are public, provide only a general summary.

The cancer center would not say whether a patient died during the event in question, but said the issues regarding the blood transfusion didn’t involve mislabeling.

“We have policies and procedures in place to protect our patients,” MD Anderson officials told the newspaper. “However, in rare instances, severe reactions occur. The transfusion of blood and blood products from human to human carries inherent risks — from mild to severe.”

MD Anderson reported the event in question to the Food and Drug Administration, which referred the case to CMS. The agency, along with the Texas Department of State Health Services, conducted investigations from March 29-April 5 and May 13-17.

Those investigations revealed serious problems related to nursing, laboratory services, patient rights, quality assurance and performance issues, and institutional oversight.

MD Anderson will be under state and federal authority until it demonstrates compliance with the CMS conditions of participation. After that, it can reapply for deemed status — a component of Medicare participation — with its accrediting agency, the Joint Commission.

Earlier this year, another Houston hospital — Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center — was accused of violating patient safety and quality care requirements following investigations when a patient died after getting the wrong type of blood in a transfusion.

In an email to the newspaper, MD Anderson officials said the cancer center is “absolutely” safe and that its staff would remain “unwavering in our commitment to provide the highest standard of care to our patients.”

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Information from: Houston Chronicle, http://www.houstonchronicle.com

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