It's a considerably ironic score given its recently shuttered neonatal intensive care unit, but Western Medical Center Anaheim received an “A” in patient safety according to a recent study conducted by the employer-financed nonprofit Leapfrog Group.
The nationwide study scored 264 California hospitals based on each hospital's rate of preventing patient injuries and illnesses. Of that number, 41 percent received a grade of C or lower, while the rest scored above the average. Out of the 18 Orange County hospitals rated, 12 received an “A,” including Western Medical Center Anaheim owned by the controversial and lawsuit-ridden Integrated Healthcare Holdings, Inc.
The hospital management company owns four hospitals including the aforementioned Western Anaheim, along with Coastal Communities Hospital in Santa Ana and Chapman Medical Center in Orange, which both received C's on their scorecards.
IHHI's Western Medical Center of Santa Ana received the lowest grade of “Score Pending” or SP, which means that the hospital has until November to improve and will otherwise be given a D or F.
It's not surprising that three of IHHI-owned hospitals rated poorly on the study with the exception of Western Anaheim Medical Center. IHHI has a history of being embroiled in a number of lawsuit battles with its own physicians and mismanagement scandals, with a negative trickle-down effect on the quality of healthcare at its hospitals.
In November, 2011 a Santa Ana-based law firm sued a majority stakeholder in IHHI, Kali P. Chaudhuri, for engaging in fraud and racketeering on Riverside County physicians. A few years before that in 2009, The U.S. Securities Exchange Commission sued the heads of IHHI's tustin-based medical lender company, Medical Capital Holdings Inc. for defrauding investors. Company president Joey Lampariello recently pled guilty to the alleged Ponzi-like scheme which resulted in 1 billion dollars stolen from investors. And in 2007, IHHI sued one of its own, Dr. Michael Fitzgibbons, for slander, because he sent an email to colleagues surmising that IHHI would default on a $50 million loan; a judge later dismissed the suit.
Most recently, the Western Medical Center Anaheim shuttered its neonatal intensive care unit due to financial troubles, putting mothers and newborn babies in need of immediate care at risk. That it scored an “A” in patient safety given its tumultuous management history might be signs of improvement for the company or might be a result of the fact that safety ratings didn't factor in overall medical care, surgery or other forms of treatment.
Not all of Orange County hospitals were included in the study, including children's hospitals, cancer hospitals and long-term care homes, but overall Orange County's percentage of high markers were ahead of the 37 percent statewide that obtained the highest ratings.
Leapfrog plans to update hospital ratings in November.