Letter: Mount Carmel could lose Medicare funding over fentanyl cases

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COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The ability of Mount Carmel West and St. Ann’s to continue receiving Medicare payments is in danger as a result of the scandal involving the death of patients under the care of Dr. William Husel.

A letter sent to the two Mount Carmel hospitals Wednesday by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services informed the hospitals that they have been found not in compliance with Medicare standards for pharmaceutical services.

We have determined that the deficiencies are so serious they constitute an immediate threat to patient health and safety. Enclosed is a list of all deficiencies cited.

The letter states that Mount Carmel’s Medicare provider agreement will terminate on February 24 unless it comes back into compliance with program requirements.

The determination comes just weeks after Mount Carmel revealed that it has linked the death of 28 patients to excessive doses of fentanyl allegedly given by Dr. William Husel. Husel was fired by the hospital and suspended by the Ohio Medicaid program.

The State Medical Board of Ohio suspended Dr. Husel’s medical license on January 25.

Mount Carmel issued the following statement:

We continue to cooperate fully with the Ohio Department of Health, the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), and other regulators to investigate Dr. Husel’s actions and how we can ensure a tragedy like that never happens again. As a result of the Ohio Department of Health’s recent review, Mount Carmel West has been asked, and we anticipate Mount Carmel St. Ann’s will be asked, to submit action plans to improve pharmacy processes.

Mount Carmel West has been (and we expect Mount Carmel St. Ann’s to be) placed in what is referred to as “immediate jeopardy” status for continued participation in Medicare & Medicaid. As is standard for this status, we will work through corrective action plans with CMS. If CMS is confident that our corrective action plans are sufficient, immediate jeopardy status will be removed. In the meantime, nothing changes our ability to treat patients covered by Medicare or Medicaid.

We will submit Mount Carmel West’s action plan next week and have already taken steps to implement the plan. We will follow the same process for Mount Carmel St. Ann’s.

We remain committed to doing everything in our power to address root causes and implement meaningful change. Already, we have increased education on standards and practices regarding end-of-life care, we added a new protocol to set maximum appropriate doses for pain medication in our electronic medical record system, we have a new escalation policy for deviations in our pain medication protocols, and we have implemented numerous other initiatives to ensure patient medication safety. We also have engaged independent experts who are assisting us with this process.

Providing safe, compassionate, people-centered care remains our highest priority throughout this process. We continue to learn from this, and we will do better – our patients and their families deserve nothing less.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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