Why Didn’t Florida Fine All Children’s Hospital
It’s been well-established in the aftermath of the debacle at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital that the State of Florida could have sent a strong message to health care providers that provide a chronic, substandard quality of care to their patients. Additionally, All Children’s neglected to inform state regulators concerning at least nine cases of adverse medical events that they were required to report by law. This oversight added to a bloated safety rating which caused more parents to send their children to a department that was responsible for a record-setting number of deaths and injuries. What did that amount to in terms of fines? An almost unbelievably low $4,500.
In the light of the facts surrounding the case, many people are asking why the State of Florida didn’t come down harder on the hospital for its poor standard of care. But the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration did not make itself available to answer that question. In a written statement, spokesperson Mary Mayhew told the press that more fines could be forthcoming and that they take their responsibility to hold health care providers accountable “very seriously”.
All Children’s Fine Par for the Course
While the fine may seem shocking on the surface, fines issued against other hospitals were more or less in line with the fine levied against All Children’s. While the conduct at All Children’s may have egregious and consequences nightmarish, the Agency for Health Care Administration just doesn’t hand out very heavy fines. This is despite the fact that these fines can be paid out of pocket change for the top executives that oversaw the calamity.
The Times reports that, since 2014, the Agency has levied 377 fines with only 10% of them topping $5000. It’s hard to believe that anyone is going to be scared into compliance by a $5000 fine. The largest fines were levied against hospitals that failed to report their financials to the state on time alongside patient data. However, All Children’s failed to report 9 adverse incidents for which they were fined a total of $500 apiece.
While the state has discretion over whether or not it fines a hospital for negligent actions or inaction and is allowed to take into account what strides have been made toward correcting the problem, the fact that this particular problem was allowed to fester so long is part of an overall culture of indifference in the State of Florida.
Withholding Medicare and Medicaid
While Florida’s state oversight agencies may not be doing anything, the federal government has stepped in and threatened Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital by pulling their Medicare and Medicaid funding. Without Medicare or Medicaid, the hospital would likely be forced to close. It is, for obvious reasons, a much better form of leverage than a $5000 levy. Today, the federal government is using that leverage to ensure that All Children’s meets specific goals in actuating changes to a department that oversaw the deaths of numerous young children.
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