Local News

Inspection Uncovers More Problems At Duke University Hospital

Posted May 29, 2003

— There is more fallout at

Duke University Hospital

following a deadly transplant mistake. A review of the hospital right after the mix-up exposed at least seven occasions when Duke did not comply with federal rules for treating patients, but hospital officials said the problems are fixed.

Jesica Santillan's death

from a mismatched organ transplant launched a series of reviews into practices at the hospital. The latest survey by the

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

(CMS) raised questions about patient care at Duke. CMS regulates health care facilities that rely on government insurance coverage for the elderly and poor.

According to the report in one instance, a patient was given the "wrong medication", but was not harmed by it. The report also found Duke was "not in compliance" with rules about keeping dialysis machines clean, and placed the hospital on "immediate jeopardy" status.

Duke officials said the staff did not know the rules changed more than a year ago.

"It's our responsibility to be aware of that, but we were not in this particular case and we were following prior standards," said Dr. William Fulkerson, chief executive officer of Duke University Hospital.

According to Fulkerson, Duke installed the correct equipment immediately and updated employees on the new procedures. He said Duke has spelled out plans to correct all of the problems cited by inspectors.

"The quality we deliver [and] adhering to standards are things that are very important to us. Our standard at Duke Hospital is to be the best hospital in the world -- bar none," Fulkerson said.

Federal inspectors signed off on two Duke reports about fixing the problems. They are still evaluating the third. They plan to examine the hospital again soon during a surprise visit. Facilities that fail to meet minimum requirements can lose their funding although officials said it is rare when that happens.

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