Nine hospitals fined for high complication rates

Nine Maryland hospitals will face financial penalties for having higher-than-average rates of preventable patient complications, reports the Kaiser Health News.

The hospitals will lose a total of $2.1 million for failing to prevent complications like infections and pneumonia because the state will lower the amount they can charge patients, according to the state's Health Services Cost Review Commission, which sets the rates hospitals can charge. The effort is designed to improve patient safety and lower costs by aligning how well hospitals reduce dangerous and costly preventable complications with their payments.

The nine hospitals with high rates include Prince George's Hospital Center; Shady Grove Adventist; Montgomery General; Doctors Community and Washington Adventist; University of Maryland Medical Center; St. Joseph Medical Center; Civista Medical Center and Memorial Hospital in Cumberland, which has since merged into the Western Maryland Health System.

The most common preventable complication among hospitalized patients is heart arrhythmias--irregular heartbeats--which affected 286 per 1,000 patients statewide in 2010. Other common complications included post-operative bleeding and renal failure without dialysis, afflicting 13 of every 1,000 patients and 11 of every 1,000 patients, respectively.

However, complications fell 12 percent statewide in 2010. And 23 hospitals--including Holy Cross and Johns Hopkins--had lower-than-average complication rates and will receive small bonuses, notes NPR.

For more:
- read the Kaiser Health News article via the Washington Post
- read the Kaiser Health News/NPR article