Senator Chuck Grassley is seeking answers from a government watchdog and an accrediting organization over investigative news reports of troubling conduct by Universal Health Services (UHS), the country’s largest psychiatric hospital chain.
The news reports “portray a pattern of conduct that is extremely concerning and cast a dark cloud over UHS’ ability to properly care for its patients and whether it is properly billing federal programs,” Grassley wrote to Daniel Levinson, inspector general of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Grassley asked for a response from the Office of Inspector General by April 28 on a news report describing concerns of low nurse staffing, medication errors and reports of sexual misconduct at the Shadow Mountain UHS facility in Tulsa, Okla. Grassley wrote that the news report from BuzzFeed “notes that many staffers have placed unwarranted physical restraints on children or completely neglected to prevent self-injury. For example, the reporting states that the manager of the facility ‘looked on, chatting with an employee, as an agitated child repeatedly banged his head against a wall.’ ”
Grassley also sought answers from The Joint Commission, an accrediting organization that reportedly designated UHS’ Shadow Mountain facility a “Top Performer in Key Quality Measures” from 2011-2015. “In light of the news reporting, it is unclear how Shadow Mountain maintains its accreditation, let alone how it received such a prestigious ranking,” Grassley wrote Mark Chassin, president and chief executive officer. Grassley sought answers by April 28 on whether the commission identified any problems during its last on-site survey of Shadow Mountain and what steps the commission takes when it receives information about problems at facilities it has previously rated highly.
Grassley’s latest inquiries on UHS follow his December 2016 inquiry to the HHS Office of Inspector General following a BuzzFeed investigative report alleging UHS pressured patients into unnecessary admittance and prolonged hospitalizations, potentially defrauding the government via Medicare and Medicaid as a result. The Office of Inspector General pledged to brief Grassley staff on a closed case involving UHS and on any closed cases going forward.