Investigators find ‘numerous’ issues related to patient safety at Swedish’s Cherry Hill site

After an investigation identified a range of recent troubles at Swedish Health’s Cherry Hill facility, federal officials said the site is at risk of being terminated from the Medicare program.

Hospital regulators have identified a wide range of recent troubles at Swedish Health’s Cherry Hill facility, including failures of oversight and “numerous” issues related to patient safety, according to records released Thursday.

Federal officials said the Cherry Hill site will be terminated from the Medicare program in 90 days unless Swedish can bring itself into compliance on a couple of key issues.

Investigators began their work after Seattle Times articles in February exposed troubles inside Swedish’s acclaimed neurosurgery institute at Cherry Hill, including staff concerns about the hospital’s culture of intimidation, issues of patient care, and surgeons who were running multiple operating rooms at a time with the help of doctors in training.

Swedish said in a statement that many of the deficiencies identified in the regulatory investigation have since been addressed. Dr. Guy Hudson, the new CEO who took the job after the Times articles, said Swedish cooperated with investigators and takes their findings seriously.

“These findings, and our action plans to address them, enable Swedish to continue to serve as the highest quality health care organization people love,” Hudson said. “We are committed to continuous improvement, learning from the past and doing what is right for our patients and the community.”

To maintain its status, Swedish must provide a response to federal officials in 10 days describing how it would address the issues raised, and then regulators will conduct another survey to verify compliance. State investigators are also asking Swedish to explain how it will deal with violations of state standards.

Among the findings of the investigative reports, the surveyors said they substantiated “numerous” patient safety concerns, including the failure of the hospital to delineate the roles of some medical fellows, the failure to ensure behavioral issues were addressed, the failure to document the surgical tasks performed by medical fellows, the failure to track when the attending physician was in the operating room, and the failure to heed the concerns of staff.

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