After Patient Death, CMS Surveyor Declares “Immediate Jeopardy” To Patient Safety

By ThinkReliability Staff

From the moment a patient arrived at an endoscopy clinic in New York on August 28, 2014, things didn’t follow the usual procedure.  The patient brought her own ear, nose and throat physician (ENT) to accompany her into surgery for an esophagogastroduoudenoscopy (EGD), though the ENT did not have privileges at the facility.  The patient signed a consent form for anesthesia, and the EGD and her vital signs were taken, though it appears her weight was either not taken or not recorded.

After a time out that was initiated by the endoscopy technician (as opposed to the anesthesiologist, as required by policy) for the EGD, the patient was administered Propofol for sedation.  After the patient was sedated, the ENT attempted to perform a nasolaryngoscopy, despite not having facility privileges or a record of patient consent, but the initial attempt appears to have been unsuccessful.  After the EGD was completed, the ENT performed another nasolaryngoscopy beginning at 8:28 AM and ending (per interview records) at 8:30 AM.

By that time, the patient’s condition was quickly deteriorating.  Her blood pressure had dropped from its pre-procedure level of 118/80 to 84/40, her pulse from 62 to 47, and oxygen saturation from 100% to 92%.  Both the Cardiac Arrest Record and the Endoscopy Code Blue Record indicate that at 8:28 AM (the same time the second nasolaryngoscopy was beginning) the patient went into cardiac arrest/ ventricular tachycardia and measures were taken for resuscitation (including assisted ventilation, chest compressions, and administration of epinephrine and atropine).

The record of the surgery note that the laryngoscope was withdrawn at 8:30 AM, at which time cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) was undertaken.  The patient was resuscitated and transferred to a hospital, where she died on September 4, 2014.  The cause of death from the autopsy report was anoxic encephalopathy (brain damage) caused by hypoxic cardiac arrest (oxygen deprivation).

The day prior to the patient’s death, a surveyor from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) declared “Immediate Jeopardy” due to “significant findings . . . which compromised patient safety”.  Specifically, the surveyor noted that the facility had risked patient safety by allowing a doctor without privileges to be allowed in the operating room and perform a procedure, and not obtaining consent or performing a time out for a procedure that was performed.

The facility quickly submitted a corrective action plan that revised procedures allowing visitors to the facility, ensuring informed consent and time out procedures are used before every procedure, and providing training on these updated procedures to staff.  Immediate jeopardy was removed on 9/5/14, although the facility was still considered out of compliance with CMS requirements, and was given until March 2 to maintain its certification.  (CMS has not released whether the facility has been successful.)

A lawsuit is underway that may provide more detail as to how the CMS findings caused (or didn’t cause) the patient’s death.  At this point, what is known can be captured in a timeline (for a chronology of events) and a Cause Map (to capture the cause-and-effect relationships that led to the impact to the goals) to start organizing and presenting information logically.  As more information is available, the Cause Map can be updated.

To see the timeline and initial Cause Map, click on “Download PDF” above.