Posted on February 2, 2005

King/Drew Stripped of Accredited Standing

Jack Leonard and Jia-Rui Chong, Los Angeles Times, Feb. 2

A national healthcare accrediting agency revoked its seal of approval Tuesday from troubled Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center, a rare sanction that underscored repeated lapses in patient care at the hospital.

The action will not lead to closure of the Los Angeles County-owned hospital in Willowbrook, south of Watts, but will mean that many private insurance companies will no longer pay for care there. The loss also jeopardizes some of the doctor-training programs run by the affiliated Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science and emergency psychiatric services at the hospital.

More broadly, the move is a vote of no confidence by medical experts in the hospital’s quality. The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations credentials about 4,600 hospitals nationwide. King/Drew is only the second in the last year to lose the panel’s accreditation and one of just 13 since 1998.

“It’s a stain on the hospital,” said county Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky. “We lost the accreditation because the hospital is in an absolute mess. It’s far worse than anybody had known.”

The revocation follows the inspection of King/Drew by the commission’s staff in August. The inspection found incompetent employees, failures to prevent hospital-acquired infections, inconsistent patient care, failure to maintain medical equipment and incomplete medical charts.