A Dozen Minnesota Hospitals Face Penalties for Infection Rates, Bedsores

From the Minneapolis Star Tribune:


About one-quarter of Minnesota hospitals will be penalized by Medicare for high rates of patients with infections, bed sores or other preventable complications, according to federal data released this week.  Medicare reviewed patient data at 12 Minnesota hospitals and found the number of preventable complications is higher than it should be.

The news is disappointing for hospitals and patients who hoped that financial penalties for high patient readmission ratesimposed under the Affordable Care Act would result in better patient outcomes and higher quality care.  Preventable complications also costs every taxpayer.  Out of the estimated $27 billion that Medicare pays for readmitted patients, more than half, $17 billion is considered to be paid for a condition that should not have happened.

The Vice-President of the Minnesota Hospital Association admitted he and his group are disappointed and had hoped for a little bit better performance.

The list of state hospitals includes, Hennepin County Medical Center, Maple Grove Hospital and the University of Minnesota Medical Center.  The full list can be found here.  Nationwide, 721 hospitals will lose 1 percent of their Medicare reimbursement funds, which adds up to $373 million in penalties.  It’s the biggest hit hospitals have had to take for delivering substandard care and poor patient outcomes.

While many hospitals have been able to reduce preventable complications, analysts still think that many easy procedures and protocols are still not being implemented.  There’s still a lack of a minimum standard of care for staffing in hospitals, for example, in states except California and Massachusetts, that could establish a minimum number of registered nurses for a particular hospital unit, which has been shown to improve patient outcomes and reduce medical mistakes.

Medicare penalizes hospitals based on widely accepted quality benchmarks — the share of patients in intensive care who develop catheter-related urinary tract or bloodstream infections, and patients who develop avoidable complications such as bed sores.

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