Missouri medical school hit with new sanctions

Thursday, September 30, 2010 | 11:51 a.m. CDT; updated 2:04 p.m. CDT, Thursday, September 30, 2010

*The length of the residency programs' probation terms have been changed. An earlier version of this story misstated how long each residency program would be serving probation.

COLUMBIA — The largest physician residency program at the University of Missouri has been put on probation by a national accreditation group.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports Thursday that the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education put the university's internal medicine department on *one year of probation.

The Columbia medical school issued a statement saying it has made significant strides toward improving the internal medicine residency program. The program is one of 38 residency specialties training about 400 doctors total on the Columbia campus. Residents typically work from three to seven years in their field after graduating from medical school.

"We continue to train the 60 internal medicine residents in this program, maintaining our focus on providing excellent graduate medical education," the statement reads. "We look forward to the ACGME's next site visit (in May) where we anticipate that our progress will be validated."

The accreditation council placed the entire residency program at the medical school on a two-year probation in April 2009, citing funding shortages and a lack of support staff that led to medical residents scheduling patient appointments and retrieving medical records, among other problems.

The sanction was lifted early in January after the school made several changes.

Medical school officials and the accreditation council declined to identify specific violations found in a June site visit that led to the latest sanction.

The council's reviewers grade medical schools and teaching hospitals nationwide on factors including residents' sleeping facilities, work hours, insurance coverage and access to counseling.

Fewer than 1 percent of the programs are put on probation. If a residency program were to lose certification, its residents would become ineligible for board certification in their specialties and could also have trouble obtaining medical licenses.

Missouri's orthopedic surgery residency program is also serving a one-year probation. Other specialties at Missouri have also been disciplined in the past, including the heart and lung surgery program in 2007 after investigators found a "catastrophic loss of resources."

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