Vinal Tech’s LPN Program Faces Closure

The licensed practical nursing program at Vinal Technical High School in Middletown is in danger of closing because too few graduates have been passing the LPN licensing exam. Vinal Tech’s passing rate has been rising since it was 53 percent in 2012, but it remained at only 75 percent May 1 and Oct. 1, 2015, state records show. To keep its approval from the state Board of Examiners for Nursing, the program must have a passing rate of at least 80 percent among students taking the test for the first time after graduation. Due to the 75 percent passing rate, the nursing board voted unanimously Oct.

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Med Board Reprimands, Fines Doctors

The state Medical Examining Board on Tuesday reprimanded a Litchfield physician for his abuse of alcohol and violating professional boundaries with an office employee. In unrelated cases Tuesday, the board also fined two doctors and a physician assistant and reprimanded a Rhode Island doctor who has a license to practice in Connecticut. In the Litchfield case, Dr. James O’Halloran III was also reprimanded for prescribing controlled substances for five patients without adequate documentation or safeguards, according to a consent order approved by the board Tuesday. O’Halloran works full-time for the state Department of Correction, but these actions took place in his private practice, the consent order said. In 2014, he had a personal relationship with an employee and his prescription pad was stolen, David Tilles, a staff attorney for the state Department of Public Health, told the board.

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CT BA Fatalities

Drunk-Driving Fatalities Decline, But State Ranks High In Impaired Drivers

Connecticut saw a decline in drunk-driving fatalities in 2014, but the state still ranks among the highest in the country in the percentage of traffic deaths involving alcohol-impaired drivers, new federal data show. Ninety-seven of the 248 traffic fatalities in Connecticut, or 39 percent, involved drivers with a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher, considered alcohol-impaired, according to statistics compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). That rate is higher than the U.S. average of 31 percent, and is the fifth highest nationally -- behind Texas, North Dakota and Massachusetts, with rates of 41 percent, and Delaware, at 40 percent. Vermont had the lowest rate, at 20 percent. Total motor vehicle deaths in Connecticut declined from 276 in 2013 to 248, in line with a national trend.

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Five Nursing Homes Fined Following Two Deaths, Lapses In Care

Five nursing homes have been fined at least $1,000 each by the state Department of Public Health in connection with lapses in care, residents who fell and broke bones and two residents who died. On Dec. 2, Water’s Edge Center of Health & Rehabilitation in Middletown was fined $1,160 in connection with a resident who died within days of falling out of bed at the home on Nov. 16. Though a care plan called for two staffers to turn the resident in bed, only one nurse’s aide was turning the resident when the fall occurred, DPH’s citation said.

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Southington Dentist Will Pay Settlement In Medicaid Fraud Case

A dentist will pay $55,000 to settle claims he defrauded the state’s Medicaid program, Attorney General George Jepsen announced Monday. Dr. Thomas DeRienzo, a licensed practicing dentist in Southington, will pay the money to settle civil healthcare fraud allegations that he submitted fake claims for Medicaid payments. Jepsen alleged that DeRienzo carried out a “long-term scheme” in which he submitted claims to the state Department of Social Services, which administers Connecticut’s Medicaid program, for dental services he did not provide to patients enrolled in the Connecticut Medical Assistance Program (CMAP).  CMAP, run by DSS, includes family, children’s and low-income Husky programs.

Jepsen accused DeRienzo of submitting claims to DSS for resin-based composite fillings that he never gave to CMAP patients. In addition to agreeing to pay $55,000 to resolve those allegations, DeRienzo has entered a separate agreement with DSS in which he is permanently barred from participating as a dentist in the CMAP, according to Jepsen.

Reached at his practice Monday, DeRienzo denied any wrongdoing.

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Patient and gurney

18 State Hospitals Penalized For High Infection Rates

Eighteen Connecticut hospitals will lose 1 percent of their Medicare payments in 2016 as a penalty for comparatively high rates of avoidable infections and other complications, such as pressure sores and post-operative blood clots, according to new federal data. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced this month that 758 of the nation’s hospitals – about 23 percent of all eligible hospitals -- would be penalized for patient safety lapses in the second year of the Hospital-Acquired Condition Reduction Program, which was mandated by federal health care reform. The penalties are based on rates of infections and other complications that occurred in hospitals between 2012 and 2014. The 18 hospitals in Connecticut include larger urban institutions, such as Yale-New Haven, Hartford and Bridgeport hospitals, and smaller hospitals, such as Manchester Memorial and Windham. They are among hospitals in the worst performing quartile nationally on patient-safety measures including the frequency of central-line and catheter-related infections, post-operative sepsis and accidental laceration.

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Med Board Reprimands Doc Involved In Insurance Fraud Case, Fines Others

A Monroe doctor who avoided prison time last year for his role in an extensive insurance fraud scheme was reprimanded Tuesday by the state Medical Examining Board. The board also decided that Dr. James W. Marshall Jr., 60, who lives in Orange, will have his medical license placed on probation for six months if he renews his registration to prescribe controlled substances. He voluntarily surrendered that registration in 2011 after he was implicated in “Operation Running Man,” a 14-month undercover investigation of auto insurance fraud conducted by the FBI. A hearing panel of the Medical Examining Board concluded that Marshall, who operates Immediate Medical Care in Monroe, prescribed painkillers such as Vicodin and Percocet 145 times for 75 patients when they were not his patients and he had not examined them, according to the board’s memorandum of decision. Marshall believed the patients had been injured in car accidents, the memo said.

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Clinic Fined, Placed On Probation, For Mishandling Ebola-Like Symptoms, Other Lapses

A prominent Hartford health center has been fined $2,500 and placed on probation for a year for numerous lapses, including mishandling a patient with Ebola-like symptoms and failing to refer a patient to a cardiologist who later had a heart attack and died. Community Health Services, based on Albany Avenue in the North End, must also hire an infection control consultant for at least three months who will report to the state Department of Public Health on efforts to correct numerous violations cited in letters between October 2014 and March of this year. Board chairman Robert Harris agreed to the fine and probation when he signed a consent order with DPH on Nov. 20. Within 21 days of signing the order, Community Health Services must re-train its nursing staff in infection control, reporting diseases, disinfecting medical equipment and hand hygiene.

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GAO Report Questions Federal Oversight Of Nursing Homes

In the last 10 years, the average number of serious deficiencies cited in nursing home inspections in Connecticut has dropped by 50 percent, while reported nurse staffing levels have risen, and reports of residents injured by lapses in care have declined, federal data show. But a new report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) questions whether those measures – many of them self-reported by nursing homes – accurately reflect improvements in nursing home care, or instead are due to deficiencies in reporting and oversight. The GAO notes that the average number of consumer complaints per nursing home actually has climbed in 30 states since 2005, including a 20 percent increase in Connecticut. The ability of the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to assess nursing home quality “is complicated by various issues with these data, which make it difficult to determine whether observed trends reflect actual changes in quality, data issues, or both,” the GAO said. The agency said that self-reporting of some of the data is among the problems that could undermine CMS’s much-touted Nursing Home Compare program, which rates nursing homes on a ‘five-star’ scale and is intended to help guide consumers’ decisions.

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Feds Fine New Haven Nursing Home More Than $60,000 For Care Lapses

Federal officials have fined Paradigm Healthcare Center of New Haven $63,700 for several lapses in care that included one case of a resident’s wound deteriorating so badly that 50 maggots crawled out of the person’s toe. The resident had the toe amputated in September, and state records show there was no evidence that the resident’s wound had been monitored weekly – as required – between July 17 and Sept. 3. Helen A. Mulligan, a spokeswoman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in the Boston regional office, said Friday that CMS imposed the fine of $4,550 a day – or $63,700 – against Paradigm from Oct. 14 to Oct.

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