Medicare is reducing payments to 721 hospitals, one out of every seven hospitals in the nation, for having high rates of “hospital-acquired” conditions (HAC) such as infections. Kaiser Health News reports that penalties are against some of the most renowned hospitals in the country, including the Cleveland Clinic, Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, Pa.
The penalized hospitals will have their Medicare payments lowered by 1 percent over the fiscal year that began Oct. 1 and continues through September 2015. The 721 hospitals affected were considered to have the highest rates of HACs, including inflections from catheters, blood clots, bed sores and other complications that are considered avoidable. Three measures were used to determine penalties; the rate of central-line bloodstream infections caused by tubes used to pump fluids or medicine into veins, infections from tubes placed in bladders to remove urine, and rates of eight types of hospital-related complications, including collapsed lungs, surgical tears, tears and reopened wounds and broken hips.
Hospitals were graded on a 10-point scale, with 10 being the worst possible score; penalties were given to hospitals who scored above 7. According to Silive.com, Staten Island hospitals barely missed the cutoff. Staten Island University Hospital avoided a penalty with a score of 6.75, but received a score of 10 in the serious complications category. Richmond University Medical Center received a 9 in the complications category and an overall score of 6.07.
New York Post reports that Kings County Hospital and Brookdale Medical Center in Brooklyn both scored nearly 10 out of 10.
“Hospital infection is one of the largest killers in the United States and they’re almost all preventable through proper hygiene and rigorous adherence to procedures, so of course hospitals should be penalized when their infection rates are high,” said patient advocate and former New York Lt. Gov. Betsy McCaughey to the Post.