Federal regulators from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have issued a notice of “Immediate Jeopardy” to San Jose’s Good Samaritan Hospital, NBC Bay Area’s Investigative Unit has confirmed.
According to CMS, “Immediate Jeopardy” represents a situation in which the hospital’s noncompliance placed the health and safety of its patients at risk for “serious injury, serious harm, serious impairment or death.”
It is the most serious deficiency type a healthcare facility can receive from the federal agency.
NBC Bay Area obtained an internal email from Good Samaritan CEO Tomi Ryba to hospital staff Tuesday calling the findings “serious” and saying they related to “Governing Body and Nursing Services.”
“I am in receipt of a notice of Immediate Jeopardy from CMS (Medicare), which places our Medicare contract at risk of termination unless we fully remediate all deficiencies that were identified in the recent CMS Complaint Violation Survey,” Ryba said.
Ryba goes on to say that Good Sam “shall come into full compliance, to be validated by a second CMS Survey, likely within the next sixty days.”
A spokesperson for Good Sam’s parent company, HCA Healthcare, confirmed the Immediate Jeopardy notice in a written statement to the Investigative Unit, saying in part:
“Overall, the survey findings demonstrate areas where we have work to do and we are committed to addressing each and every one of them,” said HCA spokesperson Janine De la Vega. “As part of our culture of transparency, we had already self-reported some of the findings to the state; many are due to the national nursing shortage amid increasing patient volume. We addressed these issues as soon as we discovered them, which is part of our ongoing quality and safety improvement program.”
The exact nature of the violations found by inspectors is unclear, as their report hasn’t yet been publicly posted, but HCA said “there’s been no demonstrated harm to patients.”
This all comes after an NBC Bay Area investigation last month revealing health inspectors were actively probing a multitude of complaints recently submitted by nurses to the California Department of Public Health, mostly around staffing shortages.
“Oh, it’s scary some days going into work,” said Diana Rossman, a nurse in the hospital’s high-risk antenatal until. “You don’t know what type of staffing you’re going to walk into.”
Good Samaritan nurses have been protesting what they call dangerously low staffing levels for more than a year, staging walkouts and presenting grievances to hospital management.
Many of the staffing complaints from nurses come from Good Samaritan’s labor and delivery department, where public health inspectors found four separate staffing violations in 2019 alone.
“A review of staffing records for the week of 8/11/19 to 8/17/19 indicated mandatory staffing ratios were not met on 5 of 7 days (8/11, 8/12, 8/13, 814, and 8/16),” one such report states.
Last month, state lawmakers blasted executives from Good Samaritan Hospital and its parent company HCA Healthcare for “dangerous” safety practices and staffing levels.
“This has really just been an ongoing concern,” State Sen. Dave Cortese at the time. “There seems to be some level of tone deafness, some level of lack of concern and compassion.”
Immediate Jeopardy deficiencies typically come with a hefty penalty, but the fine for Good Samaritan hasn’t yet been posted. A hospital source familiar with the matter says it’s “substantial.”
NBC Bay Area will update this story once the complete inspection report is released.
Candice Nguyen is an investigative reporter with NBC Bay Area. Contact her about this story or any others by emailing email@example.com.
Source: NBC Bay Area