Department of Health opens investigation into Cherry Hill Hospital's chair of neurosurgery: 5 things to know Featured

Written by  Laura Dyrda | Friday, 17 February 2017 15:54
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A few days after the Seattle Times published a report outlining concerns with Swedish Health Services' Cherry Hill Hospital Chair of Neurosurgery Johnny Delashaw, MD, the publication now reports state health regulators are investigating complaints filed against him.

The Seattle Times revealed that an overhaul of Cherry Hill's neuroscience program to attract more complex and invasive procedures generated $500 million in net operating revenue in 2015 and the hospital received higher Medicare reimbursements per inpatient than any other hospital of its size. However, the publication also found the hospital incentivized physicians to "pursue a high-volume approach" and rewarded Dr. Delashaw with a promotion based on production despite complaints lodged against him.


Here are five things to know:


1. A Department of Health spokesman said the agency is launching an investigation into Dr. Delashaw after analyzing the Seattle Times report. The investigation is related to two complaints filed against Dr. Delashaw over the past 12 months.


2. Dr. Delashaw joined Cherry Hill in 2013 and his arrival coincided with an increase in patient volume and new contracts that incentivized a high-volume approach, according to the report. After Dr. Delashaw began performing cases at Cherry Hill, the percentage of aneurysm patients who received clipping surgery went from 36 percent to 57 percent.


3. The hospital's neurosciences department updated their approach to surgical cases with the transformation, adopting a concurrent surgery model allowing surgeons to run multiple ORs at the same time with surgical fellows performed the bulk of the operation in some cases.


4. Cherry Hill medical staff expressed concerns about patient safety, inadequate care and a "culture of intimidation and disregard for patient complaints" after Dr. Delashaw's arrival.


5. The Times revealed a whistleblower contacted the Department of Health last year with several concerns about inappropriate surgery, higher complication and infection rates and fellows performing surgery without supervision. At the time, the Department of Health investigated but found the claims were unsubstantiated.


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