MU Health Care found in violation of federal regulations

Thursday, November 1, 2012 | 6:29 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA – MU Health Care is on notice to correct deficiencies found during a September hospital visit from Medicare and Medicaid regulators. 

A letter following the visit cited MU Health Care for noncompliance with a regulation that governs hospital pharmaceutical services and gave hospital administrators 10 days to submit a plan to correct the problems.

According to the letter, the "deficiencies have been determined to be of such serious nature that MU Health Care is not in compliance."

A Kansas City regional office of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, a federal agency, sent MU Health Care Administrator Jim Ross the letter, which was received Oct. 23. 

According to MU representatives, the hospital will not submit a plan within the 10 days and will instead release it as a part of a report after the next site visit. While a plan is suggested by the federal oversight agency, it is not required. 

“We are currently working on a plan for addressing the deficiencies mentioned in the letter; the plan will be a part of the final report from the CMS, which will be issued after the CMS on-site survey," MU Health Care spokesman Jeff Hoelscher said in a statement. 

Hospital administrators have not made public the list of deficiencies included in the letter. The regulation MU Health Care was found in violation of includes rules for managing hospital pharmacies, storing and distributing medicine and keeping records of drug distribution.

The letter said MU could expect another visit from surveyors soon. After the next visit, MU will be asked to submit "a plan with acceptable completion dates for correction of all its cited deficiencies."

According to the regulation cited by the surveyors: “The hospital must have pharmaceutical services that meet the needs of the patients. The institution must have a pharmacy directed by a registered pharmacist or a drug storage area under competent supervision. The medical staff is responsible for developing policies and procedures that minimize drug errors.”

MU Health Care oversees more than 20 hospital and health centers in mid-Missouri. No specific facility was identified in the letter or by MU officials.

The hospital system has been under increasing scrutiny in recent months. Two radiologists resigned in June after a federal investigation uncovered Medicare billing fraud.

Ross is set to retire at the end of the year and will be replaced by Mitch Wasden, MU Health Care's current chief operating officer.

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