91.7 Ann Arbor/Detroit 104.1 Grand Rapids 91.3 Port Huron 89.7 Lansing 91.1 Flint
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

DMC’s Harper Hospital clears inspection, responds to cardiologists’ lawsuit

 Detroit Medical Center, Harper Hospital and Hutzel Woman's Hospital.
user Parkerdr
Wikimedia Commons

The Detroit Medical Center’s Harper University Hospital passed an important inspection this month.

Harper Hospital could’ve lost Medicare payments after a Dec. 13, 2018 inspection listed several violations, including failure to accurately record time of death for three patients, "resulting in the potential for the inability to recover tissue and/or organs for use in transplant."

The inspection also noted violations for failure to follow some operating room policies – such as an anesthesiologist not tying their surgical mask, and two patients with missing post-operative reports. Inspectors found some missing fire alarms, fire sprinklers that were obstructed or missing, and portable fire extinguishers that needed inspections. An extension cord was running through a ceiling tile in one room "in place of permanent wiring."

But in a letter to DMC this month, the Centers for Medicare and Medicare Services wrote that it was rescinding its decision to terminate the hospital from the program after an inspection on April 3rd, 2019 came back with no problems.

DMC faces ongoing issues at Sinai-Grace

It’s rare that Medicare payments to a hospital are terminated. In most cases, hospitals can fix any issues and avoid termination.

And it’s good news for DMC, because according to healthcare analyst Allan Baumgarten, Medicare and Medicaid programs provided 85% of Harper Hospital’s inpatient revenue in 2017.

Medicare provides health insurance for senior citizens.

In Michigan, Medicaid payments are also stopped if a hospital is terminated from Medicare.

Medicaid is federally funded health insurance for low-income residents and people with disabilities. In Michigan, it is paid partially by the state.

The DMC has been facing and correcting a number of problems over the last few years.

In 2016, The Detroit News published stories about dirty surgical instruments at five DMC hospitals in Midtown. Follow up inspection reports showed ongoing issues at Detroit Receiving hospital as recently as October 2018.

Sinai-Grace Hospital was in danger of losing its Medicare funding much of last year. Federal inspection reports show problems with wound care, fire safety and the hospital’s infection control program.

Sinai-Gracestill faces possible termination by the end of this summer, stemming from a January 2019 inspection that revealed fire safety concerns.   

DMC responds to whistle-blower lawsuit filed by two cardiologists

Last week the DMC responded to a civil lawsuit filed by a pair of cardiologists who were fired from their leadership positions at the health system.

Drs. Amir Kaki and Mahir Elder say they were fired for raising concerns about problems affecting patient care, including dirty instruments, unnecessary procedures and improper billing of Medicare and Medicaid. They claim some patients died because of incompetent staff and efforts to trim costs. They allege the DMC owes them tens of thousands of dollars in unpaid wages.

In a response filed April 17th, lawyers for the DMC detail a number of complaints against the doctors, including “undisclosed financial relationships with medical device vendors.” The health system also accuses the doctors of avoiding on call patients “in favor of more lucrative non-emergent pre-schedules cases,” missing procedures, and billing for services “actually performed by less experienced physicians’ services under their name.”

“There were also multiple complaints about Plaintiffs’ poor interpersonal communications, bullying, yelling, screaming and other inappropriate communications, which could only be described as abuse of coworkers, staff, and fellow service providers. When confronted with the allegations, Plaintiffs were not forthright; instead, they berated staff members that brought the complaints and threatened their jobs and positions.”

Dr. Elder and Dr. Kaki's attorney didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

In its filing, DMC says the doctors signed agreements that require them to resolve issues through arbitration. DMC is asking the judge to dismiss the case.

Lindsey Smith is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently leading the station's Amplify Team. She previously served as Michigan Public's Morning News Editor, Investigative Reporter and West Michigan Reporter.
Related Content