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Inspectors approve UW Hospital's plans to correct violations
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Inspectors approve UW Hospital's plans to correct violations

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State inspectors have approved UW Hospital's plans to correct violations found in response to the reuse of a syringe in July.

The inspectors will return to the hospital over the next several months to make sure some steps are completed, such as installing fire wall dampers that could cost up to $1.5 million.Federal officials said the hospital will lose its Medicare contract next month if the issues aren't fully resolved, but that rarely happens because most hospitals comply.

None of the problems involves known harm to patients. Some citations had the potential for harm, such as a few nurses using contaminated gloves or not washing their hands adequately. Other issues dealt with medical records and food safety.

Most violations involved fire codes, including some at the American Family Children's Hospital, which opened adjacent to UW Hospital three years ago.

Ron Sliwinski, chief operating officer, said UW Hospital takes the findings seriously but considers them relatively minor issues inevitable at a large institution.

After finding the violations in October, state inspectors returned to the hospital in late November and found the problems not related to fire codes were corrected, said Seth Boffeli, spokesman for the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. An example: The hospital gave clinical staff more training about hand hygiene.

Some of the fire code violations had been corrected, but it will take months to deal with others, hospital officials have said.

To correct some of the fire code violations, inspectors said, the hospital must clear hallways, add smoke detectors and exit signs, replace door and ceiling tiles, remove materials near sprinklers and patch holes in walls and floors.

The hospital must also install the fire wall dampers. They were supposed to have been put in years ago, but that wasn't pointed out in previous inspections, Sliwinski said. The work has been put out for bids.

A Dec. 22 letter to the hospital from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said the hospital's Medicare contract will be terminated Feb. 4 because some violations remain uncorrected. Medicare, the federal health plan for seniors and the disabled, accounts for about a third of the hospital's business.

But Elizabeth Honiotes, a branch manager at the Medicare agency's Chicago office, said "hospitals usually take care of their deficiencies when they get such a notice."

UW Hospital spokeswoman Lisa Brunette said the hospital will comply and plans to submit its correction plans to the Medicare agency. "Consequently, our Medicare certification is not in jeopardy," she said.

The violations came to light after two patients received the painkiller fentanyl from the same syringe on July 27. The incident triggered inspections that found the other problems.

Vincent Stepter, of Madison, one of the syringe patients, said a hospital official told him to be tested for HIV and hepatitis. He tested negative. The other patient hasn't been identified.

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