Five Local Hospitals Lose Medicare Funding

Kaiser Health News just announced five local Louisville hospitals are losing a portion of their Medicare payments for one year due to low patient safety scores from high rates of preventable patient injuries and accidents.

Hospitals that receive Medicare and Medicaid are evaluated annually by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which oversees those federal programs, and makes payments to approved hospitals. Patient safety is part of each annual CMS review and one of the factors that determines the level of federal funding the approved facilities receive.

The safety measure analysis looks at the number of preventable injuries and accidents, including blood clots, bedsores, falls, and hospital-acquired infections, in leveling penalties. The spread of hospital-acquired antibiotic-resistant infections like MRSA, C diff, and CRE, is newly included in the CMS safety evaluation and also considered in determining penalties.

For one year beginning October 2016, 769 hospitals nationwide will lose 1% of their federal funding, or almost $430 million in Medicare payments, because of high patient injury and accident rates. This is an increase of 18% in penalties over the same time last year.

The Louisville-area hospitals penalized by CMS include:

  • Clark Memorial Hospital, Jeffersonville
  • Kentuckiana Medical Center, Clarksville
  • Jewish Hospital, Louisville
  • Norton Hospital, Louisville
  • University of Louisville Hospital, Louisville

Preventable medical error is the third leading cause of death in the United States, behind heart disease and cancer. Experts estimate at least 440,000 people die each year in U. S. hospitals from preventable medical errors due to hospital-acquired infections, blood clots, bedsores, and falls, sometimes as many as 100 people a day.

According to Kaiser Health News, the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality reported 3.8 million hospital injuries in 2016, equal to 115 injuries per 1,000 hospital stays, and more than 250,000 people with hospital-acquired antibiotic-resistant infections.

Patient safety is just as important as the quality of medical care a patient receives in the hospital. Patients should receive as much attention and financial resources devoted to acquiring the latest and greatest technology, and top-notch doctors, nurses, and staff. CMS funding penalties will hopefully incentivize these facilities to focus increased attention and resources on patient safety, and implement across-the-board changes to reduce the number of preventable patient injuries and accidents.