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Regulators find rusty equipment, unsanitary conditions at UC Irvine's dialysis center [Updated]

February 28, 2011 |  1:14 pm

Regulators found numerous problems at UC Irvine’s dialysis center during a fall inspection that has put the center’s Medicare funding at risk, according to letters and a report obtained by The Times on Monday.

Click to read the full report The center is located on the campus of UC Irvine Medical Center in Orange, but licensed separately and administered by UC Irvine School of Medicine, according to a spokesman who authenticated the documents received by The Times.

In the 70-page report on their November inspection, state inspectors said they observed poor oversight and mistakes at the center that posed a danger to patients.

[Update 3:05 p.m.: The inspection report available on this post now includes the plan of correction filed by UCI officials and a letter sent Monday to faculty and staff explaining their response to the findings.]

Among the findings:

  •  Nurses and staff failed to monitor patients’ dialysis fluid.

  • The center had become unsanitary -- dialysis chairs and walls were spotted with blood, and nurses and staff failed to disinfect syringe stoppers, chairs, dialysis machines, thermometers, IV poles and other equipment. Dialysis equipment was rusted, a dialysis piping system was held together with gray tape and staff failed to clean the facility’s water treatment system.

  •  Nurses did not change gloves, wash their hands and wear protective gowns while treating patients. Some were not trained in infection control.

The center’s administrator was notified Feb. 10 that she had 90 days to submit a plan of correction or the center would lose its Medicare funding, according to a letter from the California Department of Public Health.

UCI officials submitted a plan of correction to regulators Friday, and sent a letter to staff notifying them about what was going on, according to John Murray, a UCI spokesman.

“All their findings have been addressed and corrected,” Murray said, noting that since November, “We have a new medical director and nurse manager at the facility.”

“We had tried to address all the issues,” in the inspection report, Murray said.

According to the Feb. 10 letter, once regulators receive the dialysis center’s plan of correction, they plan to return within 30 to 45 days for a follow-up inspection.

Murray said regulators had yet to return for that inspection as of Monday.

The center was supposed to be inspected every three years, but had not been inspected since 2003. At the time of the inspection, the center was treating 104 dialysis patients at the facility and 20 patients at home, according to the report.


UCI defends dialysis center; cites improvements since inspection found numerous problems

ProPublica: UCI Renal dialysis center report card

-- Molly Hennessy-Fiske