While I am a medical malpractice attorney based in Houston, Texas, I handle medical negligence and wrongful death cases throughout the State of Texas, including the Corpus Christi area.
The Corpus Christi Medical Center is one of the major hospital groups in the area, with four hospitals in Corpus Christi. All four of the hospitals are affiliated with the mega-chain hospital system HCA, which is out of Nashville, Tennessee.
The Corpus Christi Medical Center Bay Area is located at 7101 S. Padre Island Dr., Corpus Christi, TX 78412. The Corpus Christi Medical Center Doctors Regional is located at 3315 S. Alameda St, Corpus Christi, TX 78411. The Corpus Christi Medical Center Northwest is located at 13725 Northwest Blvd, Corpus Christi, TX 78410. The Corpus Christi Medical Center The Heart Hospital is located at 7002 Williams Dr., Corpus Christi, TX 78412.
The health care services offered at each hospital vary. The Corpus Christi Medical Center Bay Area, for example, is certified by the Joint Commission as a Primary Stroke Center, and also has an accredited bariatric program for weight loss surgery. All of the hospitals have been designated as having Level IV trauma centers. As a whole, the four hospitals offer health care services including behavioral health, emergency room, cardiac/heart/vascular, inpatient rehabilitation, orthopedic surgery, radiation oncology, general surgery, robotic surgery, bariatric/weight-loss surgery, women’s center services, and a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
Quality of care concerns
In December 2017, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced the undistinguished list of hospitals performing in the bottom 25% of key quality of care measures. This annual exercise is part of the federal Hospital-Acquired Condition Production Program, which began in 2014. The goal of the program is to give hospitals a financial incentive to improve infection rates and reduce hospital-acquired injuries. Hospitals who make this bottom-performing list are penalized by Medicare with a 1% reduction in the hospital reimbursement rate for one year.
The Corpus Christi Medical Center was identified as being in the bottom 25% of performing hospitals nationwide by the Medicare/Medicaid list for 2017-2018. The hospital is included on the same list for 2016-2017.
In addition to the bottom-25% program, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services conducts an ongoing robust oversight program of accredited hospitals by sending surveyors on-site to review medical records and conduct interviews. When surveyors find quality of care concerns, they may issue a violation to the hospital.
Since August 2013, The Corpus Christi Medical Center has received eight violations from Medicare/Medicaid.
On February 19, 2016, the hospital received two violations, both of which stem from an incident in which a patient made an allegation of sexual abuse while admitted to the hospital. The patient’s caseworker notified the hospital’s Director of Nursing and Director of Intake of the sexual abuse allegation, but the surveyor found that there was no evidence that the allegation was thoroughly investigated by the hospital leadership for possible identification of abuse or mistreatment. This led to the issuance of two violations to the hospital for a violation of patient rights concerning grievances, as well as a violation of patient rights to be free from abuse and harassment.
As a former hospital administrator, I realize that things can happen in a hospital setting that are never brought to the attention of hospital leaders. The grievance process provides a unique opportunity for hospital administrators to obtain quality of care information directly from patients and family members. They should always seize this opportunity to learn from potential mistakes and improve patient safety, rather than sweeping allegations under the rug.
On May 6, 2015, The Corpus Christi Medical Center received an additional violation from Medicare/Medicaid for failing to provide a transfer or referral. The standard of care requires hospital employees to make discharge plans to allow patient healing to continue after discharge from the hospital. The Medicare/Medicaid surveyor noted that physician discharge orders for a patient included physical rehabilitation and physical therapy. Strangely, the hospital staff arranged for at-home therapy services with an agency that did not provide such services. Two days after discharge from the hospital, a friend found the patient in excruciating pain, disheveled, and dirty. The friend called an ambulance and the patient was readmitted to an acute care hospital.
On August 14, 2013, the hospital received an additional five violations. Four of the violations dealt with improper pharmacy and drug services concerning a compounded drug.
A compounded drug is one that is not available pre-prepared or pre-mixed by the manufacturer. Not all hospital or free-standing pharmacies compound drugs. In fact, in my experience, I found that a minority of them do so. In the case leading to the four violations levied against The Corpus Christi Medical Center, the Medicare/Medicaid surveyor found that the hospital obtained a medication that was compounded at an outside pharmacy that was found to be contaminated with gram-positive bacterial rods (Rhodococcus equi). A total of 45 patients were given this contaminated medication by IV, but the hospital was unable to identify which patients receive the contaminated lot, because hospital staff did not document the lot number in patient medical records.
The surveyor noted that the hospital’s practice violated the standard of care because Texas State Board of Pharmacy Rule 291.133 requires that when a healthcare provider receives a compounded preparation from a pharmacy, it must document the lot number in patient medical records.
The final violation from August 2013 dealt with the inadequacy of the hospital’s laboratory services. The surveyor found that The Corpus Christi Medical Center laboratory personnel failed to document each step of bacterial identification.
We are here to help
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured because of health care at The Corpus Christi Medical Center, or any other hospital in Corpus Christi or the State of Texas, call Painter Law Firm, in Houston, at 281-580-8800, for a free consultation about your potential case.
Robert Painter is a medical malpractice and wrongful death attorney at Painter Law Firm PLLC, in Houston, Texas. He is a former hospital administrator who represents patients and family members and lawsuits against hospitals, doctors, surgeons, anesthesiologists, pharmacies, and other healthcare providers. He is a frequent speaker and writer on topics related to healthcare and medical negligence. He serves on the editorial board of the Texas Bar Journal. In 2017, he was recognized by H Texas magazine as one of Houston’s top lawyers.