By the edhat staff
In a move to ensure the safety and quality of care for chronically ill children, a prominent unit at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital has been temporarily barred from accepting new patients, reports the Los Angeles Times.
The California Department of Health Care Services took this action after finding that the hospital’s pediatric intensive care unit did not meet the standards set by the California Children’s Services (CCS) program. The program caters to patients up to the age of 21 with chronic conditions, such as cancer, heart disease, cerebral palsy, traumatic injuries, and hemophilia.
The CCS program makes up about 1/5 of patients in its pediatric intensive care unit. All other pediatric patients not in this program are able to be accepted by the hospital.
State regulators identified several concerns, with staffing being a crucial issue. Insufficient critical care physicians and an overloaded medical director performing administrative duties were deemed to create an unsafe working environment.
The report also revealed critical care physicians stated they were prevented from transferring patients to other facilities for necessary care or faced “disciplinary actions” if this was done.
The California Department of Health Care Services indicated that the pediatric intensive care unit operated outside program standards, had inadequate policies and procedures, and lacked problem-solving protocols to prevent future issues, states the LA Times.
In response, Cottage Hospital submitted a plan in July to address these concerns. The plan is currently under review.
Until the state is assured that corrective measures will be implemented, new admissions to the pediatric intensive care unit for patients enrolled in the CCS program will remain restricted.
In a statement to the LA Times, a Cottage representative stated they were working to implement the state recommendations so that they can reopen the unit to new patients in the CCS program.
While Cottage Hospital defended their performance and contradicted specific findings in the report, such as limitations on transferring patients.
Notably, this is the second instance this year where the state has taken action to restrict admissions to a pediatric intensive care unit. Previously, John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek faced similar restrictions following investigations into patient deaths.
Despite the restrictions, hospital authorities emphasized their track record of delivering quality care, boasting zero patient harm events in the pediatric ICU since January 2022 and consistently high patient satisfaction ratings. They maintained that the state’s findings were not indicative of patient outcomes and reiterated their commitment to the program’s strength and ability to provide essential services.
Read the full LA Times article here.
[Ed Note: At Cottage Health’s request, this article and social media posts have been updated to clarify that only patients in the California Children’s Services (CCS) program are affected by the state’s mandate.]