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758 hospitals are docked for patient safety incidents, after the annual Medicare evaluation results have been released on Wednesday. According to the Medicare records, half of the hospitals have also been fined after last year’s assessment was completed.
The assessment looks at patient safety incidents and fines those medical institutions that have a higher number of incidents throughout the year. Some of the hospitals being docked this year are the Denver Health Medical Center, Stanford Health Care – Northern California or two satellite institutions administered by the Mayo Clinic Health System – Minnesota.
The fines are being prescribed as part of the federal government program which assesses the frequency of patient safety incidents. Among them, infections, hip fractures, sepsis or other complications rank high on the list. As a result of Medicare evaluation, Medicare shall slash 1 percent of payments towards the 758 hospitals during the federal fiscal year. The sum amounts to 364 million dollars.
The Medicare sanctions have been planned under the 2010 health law and they have remained a topic of controversy ever since. While patient safety advocates state that the Medicare sanctions aren’t sufficiently high to prompt change in hospital behavior, hospitals believe they’re unfair. For the following years, Medicare will see that more patient safety incidents are covered by the Medicare evaluation.
As 758 hospitals are docked for patient safety incidents, hospitals state that the sanctions are unfair for targeting institutions that have made progress, albeit not sufficient. At the same time, another contentious point is that under the 2010 health law, Medicare is required to levy these sanctions against a quarter of hospitals per year. By taking these funds away, the proper functioning of these hospitals becomes an increasingly difficult task.
The Medicare sanctions are meant to improve hospital quality with taxpayer money. Yearly, the Medicare evaluation docks payment for those hospitals where a high number of patients returned within a month. This year, the Medicare evaluation looked at the frequency of patient safety incidents between 2013 and 2014. It included infections for patients who had central lines in their veins, incisions from certain surgical interventions or urinary catheters inserted. These alone make up 75 percent of the yearly evaluation.
Other patient safety incidents considered in the Medicare evaluation include collapsed lungs, reopened wounds, surgical tears or broken hips.
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