5) SAN FRANCISCO
State regulators confirmed Wednesday that they have launched an
investigation into Kaiser Permanente's kidney transplant program after
a CBS 5 investigation uncovered
numerous accusations of disorganization and delays that may have
affected patients' health.
"We do take
these types of allegations very seriously," said Lynne
Randolph with the State's Department of Managed Health Care. "Certainly
it doesn't sound like the program was doing what it was intended to do."
state's reaction to problems with Kaiser's kidney transplant
program first reported by CBS 5 Investigates.
started its transplant program in 2004, the HMO said it
would perform kidney transplants for the some 2,000 Kaiser patients on
the waiting list, instead of sending patients to other hospitals as in
like Corra Mayo think their care was delayed.
on seven, eight years," she says.
And CBS 5
Investigates found insiders are also concerned: one doctor,
Dr. James Chon, sent a 12-page letter to Kaiser's physician-in-chief
detailing problems he saw in the program, including "numerous
resignations" and other internal issues, which the doctor called "very
serious and potentially explosive problems."
is disorganized, says David Merlin, a former program
administrator. He says the problems include "not getting timely
appointments, not getting call-backs, not getting prescriptions
refilled, not getting surgery scheduled promptly."
believes the result is transplant patients get lost in the
patients were not contacted for long periods of time," he said.
CBS 5 asked
if he was alleging that these people were neglected and
that patients may have suffered harm as a result. His answer: "I think
negligence is the appropriate term."
And now a
CBS 5 analysis of national transplant data suggests even more
troubling results: in 2005 when Kaiser performed 56 transplants
successfully, more than twice as many people -- 116 -- died waiting on
the transplant list.
opposite occurred for kidney transplant patients statewide;
more than 1,800 received transplants successfully, but only 866 died,
less than half.
number of transplants completed at Kaiser also was low compared
to state averages: less than 3 percent of people on Kaiser's waiting
list got transplants compared to an average 12 percent of people on
other lists statewide.
a complete look at the process," says Kaiser San Francisco
executive Mike Alexander.
disputes the numbers and says the program is doing well.
CBS 5: "Are
you absolutely convinced that in the switchover of the
program that there are not patients who may have suffered harm or death
because of waiting?"
"I personally don't know of any patient that occurred to."
believes the problems are urgent, "This problem needs to be
fixed now, today. Either slow the program or shut it down."
agrees, "That is very serious, and that is why we are moving
as quickly as we possibly can."