Malnutrition Rates High in Prime Hospitals

Prime Healthcare Services is a Southern California company well known for turning around troubled hospitals. It also happens to be the subject of a federal investigation for possible overbilling in relation to an outbreak of septicemia. Last week’s release of an investigation by the San Diego Union Tribune and California Watch brought more bad news to the hospital chain.

According to the investigation, eight of the top 10 hospitals for malnutrition rates are owned by Prime Healthcare Services. Why such high rates of malnutrition at these hospitals? It depends who you ask. Prime will tell you it’s because of the patient population they typically serve; very sick patients who generally do not have any health insurance or primary health coverage.

“We agree we’re going to be higher than others because we have a focus on malnutrition and because of our patient mix,” said Mike Sarrao, attorney for Prime. “Because of our business model without managed care contracts, we see more emergency room cases.”

Others suggest the high rates give the hospital a financial benefit. A diagnosis of malnutrition brings with it higher reimbursement rates from Medicare. Remarkably, in 2009, Prime reported that 25 percent of its Medicare patients had some level of malnutrition, while the state average was 7.5 percent.

The Southern California hospitals owned by Prime include Centinela Hospital Medical Center, Chino Valley Medical Center, Desert Valley Hospital, Encino Hospital Medical Center, Garden Grove Hospital Medical Center, Garden Grove Hospital Medical Center, Huntington Beach Hospital, La Palma Intercommunity Hospital, Paradise Valley Hospital, San Dimas Community Hospital, Shasta Regional Medical Center, and West Anaheim Medical Center.

Read the California Watch report here.

Read Prime Healthcare’s response to California Watch’s report here.

The Walton Law Firm provide free consultations to individuals and families throughout Southern California who believe a loved one has been abused or neglected in the hospital, nursing home, assisted living, board and care, or home health care setting. Call (760) 571-5500 or (866) 607-1325 for a free and confidential case evaluation.

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