Triplett eventually grew frustrated with the hospital and filed a complaint to the state of Washington about his mother’s treatment. A subsequent state and federal investigation found that St. John Medical Center failed to comply with multiple federal health and safety regulations.
Triplett also said the hospital was slow to release details of his mother’s infection and when he asked for financial help, the hospital failed to provide compensation.
Jeff Triplett filed a complaint after he said PeaceHealth St. John Medical Center failed to inform him of his mother's MRSA infection
Although his mother was in and out of the hospital several times between her first surgery in December, 2013 and May 2014, Triplett said the hospital never directly informed his family about the MRSA infection.
Triplett said he first heard about the infection when a hospital worker gave his mother's medical records to a visitor. The family didn’t see any official statements about his mother’s MRSA diagnosis until he received the final state investigation in September 2015.
That same investigation found she acquired MRSA either during the initial surgery or a follow-up surgery a month later.
The family asked the hospital to pay for any treatment related to the hospital-acquired infection. Jeff Triplett said a hospital official told him the family would not have to pay for follow-up care but never made good on that promise.
“I felt like a little bit of me died inside because I couldn’t help her,” Jeff Triplett said. “It was very difficult.”
Marie Triplett died on May 20, 2016. Her cause of death was listed as heart failure and “pulmonary insufficiency.” She was 85 years old.
In June 2015, Jeff Triplett filed a complaint with the Washington Department of Health. That led to a state and federal investigation being launched two months later.
PeaceHealth St. John Medical Center in Longview
The investigation confirmed that Marie Triplett contracted MRSA while in the hospital, but also uncovered several areas where St. John Medical Center was out of compliance with federal safety regulations.
Those problems led to a threat from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services: St. John Medical Center needed to clean up its act fast or face losing all Medicare payments.
State and federal reports obtained by KGW show several areas where the hospital was faulted for violating federal standards, including:
- The hospital did not maintain an “active, hospital-wide” program to either prevent infections or stop them from spreading.
- The hospital did not have an “infection prevention professional” since the beginning of 2014. Hospitals are required to have an active program to prevent infections, which investigators said St. John Medical Center did not have. The hospital did hire an apprentice infection prevention professional in July of 2015, but the investigators found that person did not have the proper credentials as required by the Centers for Disease Control.
- The hospital did not have a written policy designating its “infection control officer.”
- The hospital did not “flag” a MRSA patient and implement proper isolation precautions to prevent the spread of infection.
“Failure to assure the ‘Infection Control Program’ is functioning places patients at risk for acquiring infections while hospitalized,” the investigator wrote in her report.
In September 2015, Medicare put St. John Medical Center on what is called a “90-day termination track.” That meant the hospital had 90 days to implement reforms or face losing all Medicare payments.