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Feds Say Parkland Hospital Poses 'Threat' To Patients

DALLAS (CBS DFW) –  Parkland Hospital is under serious scrutiny after the federal government issued a warning that conditions at the hospital pose a "serious threat" to patients' health and safety.

Parkland is one of the busiest hospitals in the country, virtually a city within a city, but the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Service said there are serious problems there following a thorough inspection.

"The CMS has determined that Parkland Health and Hospital System no longer meets the requirements for participation in the Medicare program because of deficiencies that represent and immediate and serious threat to patient health and safety," CMS officials said in a notice to the hospital.

The notice also states, "Unless the serious and immediate threat to patient health and safety is removed, your hospital's Medicare agreement will be terminated on September 2, 2011."

In a written statement by Parkland Hospital CEO Ron Anderson, "We acknowledged the seriousness of this notification. We have a tremendous responsibility to get this right – to address the deficiencies identified by CMS – and to do so as quickly and thoroughly as possible."

Anderson also wrote, "We expected deficiencies and we are grateful for assistance in identifying them."

The hospital has until August 20 to notify the organization about a plan to correct the problems and it's required to put that plan into action by August 24. If that doesn't happen, the hospital may be removed from the Medicare program.

"It is rare for the government to take such action," CMS spokesman Bob Moos said Wednesday. "Two Parkland violations relating to infection control and emergency care issues are so serious that they triggered `immediate jeopardy' status. That is the most severe finding we can have in a hospital, and it requires immediate attention."

He added that each year, only two or three hospitals among more than 400 statewide face such measures.

The action comes after a two-week inspection of the hospital last month. The inspection was triggered by the death of a patient in February in the psychiatric emergency room.

The Dallas Morning News has reported that according to a CMS report on the death of George Cornell, the 49-year-old who suffered from schizophrenia and heart problems was restrained before his death without close monitoring by a nurse and without effective training of the technicians who subdued him.

Moos said that results from that investigation showed that a "full survey of the hospital was warranted." He said the specific findings from the hospital inspection won't be publicly released until Parkland has submitted its plans of correction.

Anderson said that 40 percent of Parkland's funding comes from taxpayers, 16 percent from Medicare and 32 percent from Medicaid.

"Failure to accomplish these goals would result in us losing half of our revenue," Anderson said.

Parkland, a regional center for burns and trauma, is also the main teaching hospital for the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

(Copyright 2011 -- The Associated Press contributed to this report. All Rights Reserved.)

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