NC hospital’s certification in jeopardy after fire

PINEHURST, N.C. (AP) — A Moore County hospital is at risk of losing its certification for Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements after a fire broke out during an emergency surgery.

The Fayetteville Observer reports (http://bit.ly/16NOCeo) that FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital said in a statement that the N.C. Division of Health Service Regulation placed the hospital on immediate jeopardy status after an unannounced investigation into the June fire. The division issued the status on Aug. 1.

According to a hospital spokeswoman, a patient was undergoing an emergency life-saving procedure when vapor from sterilizing fluid ignited, causing a flash fire that was immediately extinguished. The spokeswoman said the patient sustained small first- and second-degree burns to the neck and shoulders.

“The patient was discharged from the hospital and did not sustain any permanent injuries,” said Dr. John F. Krahnert, chief medical officer for FirstHealth of the Carolinas. “After a thorough investigation, we have determined that the operating room staff responded to the incident appropriately and then successfully continued with the original emergency procedure.”

A survey said the hospital was cited for not following established fire safety prevention policies and procedures. It also said Moore Regional operating room staff members failed to ensure a patient’s health and safety.

The hospital was placed on immediate jeopardy status after the survey results were forwarded to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services office in Atlanta.

The centers define immediate jeopardy as “a situation in which the provider’s noncompliance with one or more requirements of participation has caused, or is likely to cause, serious injury, harm, impairment or death to a resident.”

About 55 percent of Moore Regional’s patients are covered by Medicare, according to Gretchen Kelly, administrative director for public relations at FirstHealth of the Carolinas.

“The immediate jeopardy status does not affect the daily operations for any of FirstHealth’s hospitals nor does it impact any Medicare or Medicaid beneficiaries,” Kelly said.

Kelly described the accident as a “process error,” not a human error, and said no one was disciplined. She said the administration is confident that the centers will approve its plan and lift the immediate jeopardy status by the end of the month.

The centers give providers 23 days or less to fix problems that led to a jeopardizing designation.

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Information from: The Fayetteville Observer, http://www.fayobserver.com

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