The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) conducted an inspection and identified deficiencies at the Exeter Hospital in Exeter, N.H., in July 2012, noting that the hospital needs to improve its policies on administering drugs and controlling infections. Authorities discovered serious problems at the hospital last spring after a hepatitis C outbreak occurred. A former cardiac catheterization lab technician, who is infected with hepatitis C, has been accused of stealing drugs from the hospital and replacing them with tainted syringes that were later used on patients. Since May, 32 persons have been diagnosed with the same strain of the disease as the technician.
The hospital has been in the process of addressing the problems identified in the CMS inspection. However, on October 11, CMS sent a letter to the hospital stating that in a follow-up survey, they found that the problems remain, and they plan to terminate the hospital’s Medicare funding on December 28. The letter said, “CMS has determined that the deficiencies are of such a serious nature as to substantially limit the hospital’s capacity to provide adequate care.”
On October 19, Exeter Hospital declared in a statement that it is correcting the problems and is continuing to thoroughly address each of the agency’s findings, noting that it has already taken steps to resolve many of them. The hospital plans to fix the rest in the next several weeks. Exeter Hospital’s CEO Kevin Callahan announced, “We take quality and patient safety extremely seriously and will continue to make all necessary improvements to further improve the health system.”
A CMS spokesperson added that the center’s full report will not be made public for 30 days or when CMS receives an acceptable plan of correction, whichever comes first. The letter sent to the hospital outlines four areas where Medicare conditions have not been met: infection control, patients’ rights, the hospital’s quality assessment and performance improvement program, and its governing body.