In its toughest crackdown yet on medical errors, the federal government is cutting payments to 721 hospitals for having high rates of infections and other patient injuries.
Medicare assessed these new penalties against some of the most renowned hospitals in the nation, 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.
One out of every seven hospitals in the nation will have their Medicare payments lowered by 1 percent over the fiscal year that began Oct. 1 and continues through September 2015. The health law mandates the reductions for the quarter of hospitals that Medicare assessed as having the highest rates of “hospital-acquired conditions,” or HACs. These conditions include infections from catheters, blood clots, bed sores and other complications that are considered avoidable.
The penalties, which are estimated to total $373 million, are falling particularly hard on academic medical centers: Roughly half of them will be punished, according to a Kaiser Health News analysis.
Medicare levied penalties against a third or more of the hospitals it assessed in New Jersey, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Nevada, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Utah, Washington and the District of Columbia.
The penalties are reassessed each year and Medicare plans to add in more kinds of injuries. Starting next October, Medicare will assess rates of surgical site infections to its analysis. The following year, Medicare will examine the frequency of two antibiotic-resistant germs: Clostridium difficile, known as C. diff, and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, known as MRSA.