- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 19, 2001

CHARLOTTESVILLE (AP) A state investigation into the University of Virginia Medical Center found 16 problems with the hospital's care, ranging from failure to keep medication in a locked storage area to one instance of administering the wrong medication to a patient.
The inspection report, released Monday by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, came after numerous deficiencies were found in the hospital's psychiatric unit. CMMS concluded in an earlier review that the hospital "failed to protect three patients from sexual abuse," and that patients were left in restraints too long on the psychiatric unit.
Leonard W. Sandridge Jr., UVa.'s executive vice president and chief operating officer, said the majority of the new deficiencies were merely problems with documentation.
"The results are evidence of the fact that UVa. Medical Center is acting effectively and in the best interest of our patients," Mr. Sandridge said.
The investigation, conducted between June 18 and July 6, found that the hospital was violating its own policy by allowing resident physicians to perform surgery without the supervision of the attending physician.
Hospital officials stressed that Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services took issue with the practice only because it violates university policy. "It was never a question of patients being put at risk," said Dr. Thomas Massaro, the medical center's chief of staff.
The hospital has since changed the policy, Dr. Massaro said.
The investigation also found instances when one nurse failed to follow hospital guidelines when dealing with a suicidal patient, and another gave a patient the wrong medication without reporting the incident to the pharmacy.
"Due to this error, the patient could not breathe on his own and his ventilation had to be assisted by bag-valve mask," the report said.
In addition, the report noted that staff failed to properly lock medication storage areas. The medication room, which contained a synthetic narcotic painkiller called Toradol, was open while no staff was nearby.
Only one of the hospital's 16 problems the lack of a sprinkler system in the smoking areas on the ground and fifth floors is considered serious enough to warrant barring the university from Medicare reimbursement. University officials say that problem already has been corrected.
On Friday, hospital officials submitted to the state a plan to correct the problems.

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