Sunday, April 20, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Feds probe brain operations at California hospital

DAVIS — A federal report questions whether two surgeons at a Northern California hospital contributed to the death of at least one of three patients who underwent what was called an untested surgical procedure, a newspaper reported Tuesday.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services report also criticized the University of California, Davis hospital for failing to monitor the surgeons, the Sacramento Bee (http://tiny.cc/22z5ow) said.

The federal agency has the authority to block the hospital from receiving Medicare and Medicaid funding. The hospital received $275 million from the Medicare program in the past fiscal year, representing about 20 percent of its total revenue of $1.3 billion.

The center launched an investigation after the surgeons introduced bacteria into open head wounds of three patients who died in 2010 and 2011, the report states.

The report questioned whether the doctors might have been responsible for “contributing to or causing the death of at least one patient,” the newspaper reported.

The federal agency’s report called the surgeries “non-standard, experimental treatments.”

The report stated that patients were sickened with “a type of live bowel bacteria” that was brought to the hospital in a Styrofoam cooler from “a university campus animal research laboratory.”

The doctors said they hoped to trigger an immune system response to help fight cancer. The procedure has not been approved by federal regulators, the newspaper said.

UC Davis officials have rejected some of the report’s toughest findings.

“We’re providing high-quality care,” hospital chief Ann Madden Rice told the paper.

Investigators said they were troubled by management’s response to the surgeries, noting that lead researcher Dr. J. Paul Muizelaar planned on trying his theory on five more patients before he was halted.

The center also noted the hospital allowed him to keep working despite “more than 200 patient complaints and misconduct and competence concerns by other medical staff members.”

Muizelaar took a leave of absence last week after he was named in a fourth malpractice lawsuit in the past year. He didn’t immediately respond to a message left by The Associated Press at his Sacramento medical office.

The Bee reported that an inspection team from the California Department of Public Health arrived at the 619-bed hospital unannounced on Monday to aid the federal agency with its investigation.

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

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