SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — A new report sheds light on recent physical confrontations between a Missouri hospital’s staff and patients that put the facility at risk of losing Medicare funding.

A spokeswoman for Mercy Hospital Springfield told the Springfield News-Leader that an August investigation report resulted in the firing of a dozen employees and the threat of losing funding from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The federal agency investigated following a complaint regarding patient care. The agency found instances of staff neglecting patients’ request for medical help and employees being physically forceful with patients.

The agency flagged four occurrences of “abuse and/or neglect” between April and August in the report, which was released Monday.

In an April case, staff members restrained a patient pouring herself water before other employees carried her to a seclusion room. A security guard hit the patient’s hand with a closed fist after the patient grabbed a staff member’s hair, according to the report. That same month, two staff members in the psychiatric unit restrained a teenage patient as they forced an antipsychotics pill in her mouth.

In June, hospital security guards “attempted to intimidate the patient and his friend” during a patient’s visit to the emergency department for numbness in his arm, the report said. Guards tackled the patient to the ground after the patient refused help from the hospital.

The report also cited an August incident during which a security guard allegedly bent a psychiatric patient’s thumb toward her wrist. The patient also had visible swelling on the side of her face. A nurse said the patient was uncooperative, but the report said video footage shows the patient behaved calmly. The patient remained restrained to a bed and secluded for hours.

Mercy Hospital has a new interim leadership team and is implementing enhanced hands-on training and close monitoring of performance in “tense situations,” according to the hospital.

“While we deeply regret that these incidents occurred. We have treated this as a learning opportunity as we reaffirm our commitment to our mission, values and charism,” the hospital said in a statement Tuesday.

Julie Brookhart, a spokeswoman for Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said that as of last month, the hospital was still out of compliance on two conditions that were needed to participate in Medicare.

A state agency will revisit Mercy this month to determine if everything is back in compliance. If not, the hospital risks termination of its Medicare funding on Nov. 5.


Information from: Springfield News-Leader, http://www.news-leader.com