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Medicare Penalizes 751 Hospitals for High Rates of Patient Injuries

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Ending up in the hospital can often be stressful and expensive, but it shouldn't be dangerous, as well. That's why the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is reducing its payments to 751 hospitals as a penalty for their poor patient safety statistics. Medicare will cut its 2018 reimbursement rates by one percent for the lowest-ranking quarter of hospitals based on a battery of patient safety measures-potentially a loss of millions of dollars, for some hospitals.

The federal government's Hospital-Acquired Condition Reduction Program compares hospitals' performance across 15 measures, designed to represent some of the most common and problematic patient injuries and infections associated with inpatient hospital stays. The list of measures includes rates of bed sores, post-op hip fractures and respiratory failure, catheter-related urinary tract infections, and infections of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteremia (MRSA) and Clostridium difficile (commonly known as C-diff).

Having a financial incentive attached to performance is intended to help align hospital administrators' focus on their bottom line with the goal of safer patient care, but the program's data can also help you choose a safer hospital. You can look up hospitals using Medicare.gov's Hospital Compare tool, or you can view a list of penalized hospitals for current and prior years, compiled by the non-partisan Kaiser Family Foundation.

Of the 751 hospitals penalized in 2018, 50 are located in Texas and 13 in the greater Houston area, including the Harris Health System. The penalty is applied to the bottom quarter of all rated hospitals, so in some cases the actual difference in performance between a hospital that was penalized and one that was not could be small. But as years of tort reform efforts in Texas have resulted in increasingly strict limits on compensation for victims of medical malpractice, it's more important than ever for patients to take action to inform and protect themselves.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of medical malpractice, contact an attorney at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner by calling 713-396-3964 or 1-800-594-4884 for your free consultation.

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