CMS limits public access to hospital error data

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has stopped publicly reporting data regarding several hospital-acquired conditions (HACs), USA Today reported, which means consumers won't find answers as to which hospitals have high rates of air embolisms and leaving foreign objects in the surgical field.

CMS will still report 13 conditions, including MRSA and sepsis, on its Hospital Compare website, but will drop others, saying the new data includes more reliable measurements of the same conditions, such as the use of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data on bloodstream infections, according to the article. Spokesman Aaron Albright told USA Today in an email that the National Quality Forum (NQF) supports the new measures.

NQF Spokeswoman Ann Grenier told USA Today the panel decided to drop some of the data because it wasn't "appropriate for comparing one hospital to another." CMS is working to measure HACs to represent some of the most common adverse events. The statistics currently unavailable are for never events and patient-safety advocates argue that information is essential to consumers, according to the article.

"People deserve to know if the hospital down the street from them had a disastrous event and should be able to judge for themselves whether that's a reasonable indicator of the safety of that hospital," Leah Binder, CEO of the Leapfrog Group, told USA Today.

However, Nancy Foster, quality and patient-safety vice president at the American Hospital Association, argued that the data and information reported must be reliable or it benefits no one, defeating the attempts at transparency, according to the article.

To learn more:
- here's the article
- check out Hospital Compare