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Feds approve Tampa General Hospital's plan for improvements

TAMPA — Tampa General Hospital has jumped the first hurdle to keeping its Medicare funding safe, federal officials said Wednesday.

The hospital's plan to fix safety problems in its psychiatric unit has been approved by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Regulators identified the problems after two patients committed suicide in the psych ward in July.

But investigators have been at the hospital all week, reviewing whether the improvements are more than just on paper.

"Once the plan of correction has been approved, it needs to be implemented and working," said Lee Millman, a spokeswoman for the centers.

Tampa General sent the plan to the feds on Saturday. The hospital had until Saturday for the plan to be approved or have its Medicare funding suspended.

After two patients hanged themselves two days apart in the same room in the psychiatric unit, federal investigators visited and found significant safety problems, prompting a threat to revoke the funds.

Investigators said patients were in "immediate jeopardy" and said the hospital had done too little to improve safety after the first suicide.

Hospital staffers discussed increasing observation checks and adding video monitors, but didn't follow through, the report on the investigation said.

Investigators also found patients sleeping in the hallway so one employee could watch them all.

Tampa General will post its improvement plan on its Web site, www.tgh.org, once the centers have given final approval, said spokesman John Dunn. Until then, he said hospital officials would not discuss details of the plan.

Lisa Greene can be reached at greene@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3322.

Feds approve Tampa General Hospital's plan for improvements 09/03/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 3, 2008 10:17pm]
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