Teaching, urban hospitals could see large Medicare cuts based on HAIs, patient injuries

Medicare will penalize about 750 hospitals across the country with the highest rates of infections and patient injuries, slapping them with about $330 million in sanctions starting in October, according to a Kaiser Health News artilce.

The preliminary list, released in April, could change before Medicare sets final penalties later this year--the government will look at performance over a longer period to calculate draft penalties. That would give hospitals time and motivation to lower patient safety incidents and hospital acquired infection (HAIs) rates.

The Hospital Acquired Condition Reduction Program, in addition to other Medicare programs, puts hospitals at risk for losing a portion of their payments in the fall, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, based on these measurements:

  • Frequency of bloodstream infections in patients who had catheters inserted into a vein to deliver treatment.

  • Rate of infections from catheters inserted into the bladder to drain urine.

  • Hospital-acquired conditions such as bedsores, hip fractures, blood clots and accidental lung punctures.

Publicly owned hospitals and those that treat large populations of low-income patients are most likely to receive penalties, as are large and urban hospitals in the West or Northeast, KHN reported. Teaching hospitals should also expect a big hit--Medicare marked 54 percent of them for preliminary penalties, according to the article.

At Vidant Medical Center in Greenville, North Carolina, which received a preliminary penalty under the scores released in April, is working to reduce complications. The hospital added patients to internal committees, posted the number of medication errors, infections, falls and bedsores that patients at the hospital experience on its website for the public to read, Joan Wynn of Vidant told KHN.

To learn more:
- here's the article
- check out the preliminary list
- read the CMS fact sheet

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