CMS to remove HAC data from Hospital Compare website

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is going to remove information about eight potentially life-threatening, hospital-acquired conditions from its Hospital Compare website while it develops a new set of conditions, Bloomberg reported this week.

CMS said two of the eight hospital-acquired conditions (HAC) already are listed elsewhere on the website, and three are included in separate composite scores, according to the article. HACs were added to the website in October 2011, and are scheduled to be removed when the site is updated in July. According to the article, it could be two years before performance on a revised list of measures is posted.

While consumer-oriented advocacy groups, including the Leapfrog Group, criticized the move as a blow against transparency, the American Hospital Association has argued that the information--pulled from Medicare data--was incomplete and potentially inaccurate.

"Our members have long been in favor of transparency," Nancy Foster, AHA vice president for quality and patient safety policy, told Bloomberg. "The only thing we have insisted upon is that the measures be accurate and fair, that they represent a real picture of what's going on in an individual hospital if you're going to put it up on a public website."

The Measure Applications Partnership (MAP) has proposed CMS use a list endorsed by the National Quality Forum, which advises the industry on best practices.

CMS proposed a new list in April, Bloomberg noted. Measures on bed sores and objects left inside the body after surgery would continue. Other measures would include collapsed lungs, post-surgical blood clots and other complications. Two never-events would be dropped from the HAC list: air embolisms and wrong-type blood transfusions.

Under the Affordable Care Act, CMS is required to cut Medicare payments starting in October 2015 to the bottom 25 percent of hospitals based on HAC measures.

Research published last fall in the New England Journal of Medicine found that discontinuing Medicare payments for preventable HACs had no measurable impact in reducing two major type of hospital-acquired infections: central catheter-associated bloodstream infections and catheter-associated urinary tract infections.

Infection rates fell during the study period of 2006 to 2011, the researchers found, but no more than for ventilator-associated pneumonia, which was not covered under the Medicare penalties.

To learn more:
- read the Bloomberg article

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