For years, the Martin Luther King Jr/ Harbor Hospital had existed on a regular serving of last minute chances and reprieves. This public hospital has failed so many inspections that the regulating authorities felt the patients were in immediate danger.Unfortunately, King Harbor was one of the few positive results of the Watts riots of 1965. It was also one of the few choices for hospital care for the poor that live in South L.A. The Joint Commission pulled its accreditation from King/Drew in February 2005. The stipulations at that time were that King/Harbor needed to correct its infractions or risk loosing its financial support.The federal government rarely withdraws financial support from hospitals. Its real goal in most cases is to encourage compliance. As a result, healthcare systems will either fix the problems or close down on their own. King/Harbor has had trouble with federal and state regulators in the past. Most recently in January 2004, inspectors uncovered instances were nurse had falsified patients' conditions. Also discovered were documentation that indicted the nurses failed to give critical medications ordered by doctors. Overall the hospital's infractions had been documented in several inspection reports. The reports listed several preventable patient deaths, medication mistakes and the use of Taser stun guns to control psychiatric patients. At the final inspection of King/Harbor, the regulators were to report whether it was supposed to loose federal funding in the amount of $200 million dollars. King/Drew failed and lost the funding which was over half its budget. The violations cited are:
- Jan. 04: nurses lied in medical charts,
- Mar 04: Medicare reports patients are in immediate danger after the hospital staff gave medication inaccurately and failed to investigate the errors relating to medication dispensing.
- Jun 04: Medicare reported patients are in immediate danger because the hospital used county police to Taser mental patients too often.
- Dec 04: Medicare reported patients in immediate danger because of continued use of Tasers.
- Sep 06: King/Harbor is failed its “last chance” inspection and lost government funding
Along with losing its National accreditation, it also lost its state license. But there is an interesting result from the failure of the hospital. It not only resulted in the lost of accreditation and licensure of the hospital facility but loss of accreditation of the medical school. King/Harbor was also called King/Drew because of its affiliation with Charles Drew Medical School. The medical school had threatened to sue not the hospital, but the county government The County understood that it needed King-Drew Medical Center to maintain its accreditation and licenses in order to support the teaching facility for the Drew and UCLA medical students, healthcare professionals and technicians, and for the University's medical Residents in residency/fellowship programs. The law suite stated that the County had betrayed its low income citizens and undermined the partnership with the University. By allowing the Hospital to operate out of compliance and finally loosing its accreditation, it cased serious damage to Drew University's Graduate Medical Programs. It caused the elimination its 15 Residency/ Fellowship programs. It also forced the University to voluntarily withdraw its own accreditation of its residency training. It is evident that accreditation of the hospital was not only extremely important to the survival of the hospital, but was also vital to the survival of the University's Graduate program.
How King-Harbor has stayed alive, By Charles Ornstein, Los Angeles TimesJune 11, 2007, accessed Jan 22, 2008 at http://www.topix.com/content/trb/2007/06/how-king-harbor-has-stayed-alive .
Federal Inspectors Terminate Funding for King-Harbor Hospital, August 13, 2007accessed Jan 22, 2008 at http://www.californiahealthline.org/articles/2007/8/13/Federal-Inspectors-Terminate-Funding-for-KingHarbor-Hospital.aspx