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North Carolina hospital could lose funding after lawsuit

According the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a North Carolina hospital could lose its Medicare funding following the death of a schizophrenic patient who allegedly died after guards employed by the facility attempted to restrain him.

The matter is at the center of a wrongful death lawsuit filed against the hospital, which alleges that a guard killed the 28-year-old patient after putting him in a choke-hold. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services claims the guards were never trained in such therapeutic physical holds. The wrongful death claim also accuses the facility of failing to have enough nursing staff on hand to supervise the security staff's attempts to restrain the man, claiming that this amounts to negligence on the hospital's part. Additionally, several other security guards allegedly piled on top of the patient during the hold to make sure he could not move.

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services told the hospital it is in "immediate jeopardy" of losing funding unless steps are taken to resolve the complaint are taken. If the agency revokes the facility's funding, the hospital would not receive reimbursement for any services provided after the cut-off date. Additionally, Medicare would only continue to pay for patients admitted before that date for 30 days. An official associated with the hospital explained his organization is devoted to patient safety, saying that it has implemented all procedures and policies needed to maintain quality care.

He added that he is confident that agency inspectors will allow the facility to keep its Medicare funding following their survey, deeming the hospital's quality standards to align with best practices.

As the wrongful death suit moves through the courts, it could result in revoked Medicare funding for the hospital, and could provide compensation for the victim's family for their pain and suffering.

Source: WRAL, "Patient death could cost Fayetteville hospital its Medicare funding," Bryan Mims, Nov. 3, 2011

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