- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 11, 2004

BALTIMORE (AP) — A national organization has revoked accreditation for two key testing areas at Maryland General Hospital, citing serious and recurring deficiencies at the troubled facility.

The action by the College of American Pathologists for chemistry and point-of-service operations at the hospital followed an April 26 inspection and will remain in effect for a month, state officials said Monday.

The chemistry section of the laboratory includes tests conducted for cholesterol levels, drug screening and prostate-specific antigen to detect prostate cancer. Point-of-care services include routine tests for blood sugar levels and urinalysis.

Loss of accreditation does not affect the hospital’s ability to deliver those services, officials said. The hospital said Monday that it is working to correct problems identified by the latest inspection.

Earlier this year, a complaint from a former lab worker led state and federal officials to discover serious deficiencies at Maryland General’s lab. The hospital sent out more than 450 HIV and hepatitis test results to patients over a 14-month period ending in August despite instrument readings that showed the results might be erroneous.

Those problems led to the resignations last month of Maryland General’s president and two top lab directors. The lab has since been placed under outside management.

The College of American Pathologists, an Illinois-based accrediting organization, had given full approval to all of Maryland General’s laboratory operations after a routine inspection a little more than a year ago.

The once-confidential 2003 CAP report released recently by state officials showed inspectors from the agency gave the facility generally high marks at the same time they noted the hospital’s laboratory had gone for a year without adhering to a quality-assurance plan.

State Health Secretary Nelson Sabatini said state officials have asked for the detailed inspection notes from the recent CAP inspection to determine if the problems were the same as those already turned up in a series of state inspections.

“Where were they before April 26?” Mr. Sabatini asked.

Since Maryland General’s problems became public, Mr. Sabatini has been highly critical of CAP and the hospital-inspection process. The health official contends that state and federal laws unduly limit the ability of state inspectors to review hospital operations.

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