Medicare Cuts Payments to 700+ Hospitals for Preventable Patient Infections & Injuries

patient safety signAs of October 2014, 721 U.S. hospitals have seen their federal reimbursements cut by 1 percent as a penalty for high rates of “hospital-acquired conditions” (HACs), or preventable patient injuries and infections.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced the list of hospitals to be penalized in a report published in December. In all, one out of seven hospitals in the nation has been impacted by the enforcement of these new penalties, which are expected to total more than $370 million, according to Kaiser Health News.

Academic medical centers represent a significant portion of the group, with more than half of the nation’s academic medical centers facing reimbursement cuts.

“We know some of the procedures we do — heart transplants or resecting cancerous portions of the esophagus — are going to be just more prone to having some of these adverse events,” explains Dr. Atul Grover, the chief public policy officer of the Association of American Medical Colleges, in an article published on Kaiser Health News titled Medicare Cuts Payments To 721 Hospitals With Highest Rates Of Infections, Injuries.

“To lump in all of those things that are very complex procedures with simple things like pneumonia or hip replacements may not be giving an accurate result.”

This new penalty represents the latest portion of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to be enforced. In 2014, CMS fines more than 2,600 hospitals for having high rates of patient readmission — that is, patients returning for the same illness or issue within one month of treatment.

This year marks the fourth year those readmission penalties will be assessed. This is also the fourth year CMS will give bonuses and penalties based on specific quality measures, such as patient satisfaction scores and mortality rates. With the new HAC penalties in effect, the nation’s worst-performing hospitals risk losing more than 5 percent of their CMS reimbursements in 2015.

Most hospitals cannot afford to sacrifice reimbursement dollars. BedWatch technology tools help hospital leaders collect detailed performance data, promote patient and staff safety, and gain insight into potential problems and recurring process issues that slow down speed of service and can negatively impact quality of care. For more information about BedWatch technology and how our tools can help improve performance at your hospital, please contact us.

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