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Robert B. Vogel, MD, JD
Retinal Ophthalmologist at Piedmont Eye Center, Lynchburg VA;
Attorney, Overbey Hawkins & Wright, PLLS, Lynchburg, VA;
Adjunct Professor, Humanities and Bioethics, Liberty University School of Medicine, Lynchburg, VA.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is doling out more penalties for 769 hospitals whose patients experience a high number of hospital-acquired conditions (HACs), Kaiser Health News reported. In addition to the usual catheter-associated urinary-tract infections, central line-associated bloodstream infections, and other injuries, CMS is now including antibiotic-resistant infections Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) to the HAC Reduction Program.
For the 2017 HAC Reduction Program, the worst performing quartile was identified by calculating a total HAC score based on the hospitals’ performance on six quality measures: the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) Patient Safety Composite indicators, central line-associated infections, catheter-associated urinary tract infections, surgical site infections in colon surgery and abdominal hysterectomy, MRSA, and CDI.
Despite the fact that HACs declined 21% nationally between 2010 and 2015, there were still 3.8 million hospital-related injuries last year, according to AHRQ. The number of antibiotic-resistant infections continue to increase, however, and are a significant cause of hospital-acquired morbidity and mortality. AHRQ estimates there were 6,300 cases of MRSA and 100,000 cases of CDI in hospitals last year.
According CMS data, 769 hospitals will be penalized by 1% of all of their Medicare payments for the year. In total, these hospitals will lose about $430 million, 18% more than they lost last year, according to an estimate from the Association of American Medical Colleges.