Medicare fines 17 NYC hospitals over patient complication rates

Medicare cuts designed to combat infections and other patient-safety issues

A total of 17 hospitals in New York City will see their Medicare funding cut due to high rates of patient complications, such as infections, according to the New York Post. The 17 hospitals in the city are among hundreds nationwide that are being penalized under new Medicare funding rules. The penalties are part of a broader effort to clamp down on hospital errors and infections, which analysts say remain unacceptably high despite some recent reductions.

Preventable complications assessed

As part of recent federal legislation, Medicare is now assessing hospitals on a number of complication rates, including infections, bedsores, and hip fractures, in order to determine funding. All of the complications assessed by Medicare under its new reimbursement scheme are considered preventable. Therefore, a high complication rate could be indicative of poor hygiene measures at a hospital, for example, or patients not being attended to often enough by a nurse or health care provider.

Any hospital that scores more than seven out of ten points on Medicare's assessment scale will have its Medicare funding cut by at least one percent. Two New York City hospitals, both of which are in Brooklyn, scored the worst possible score of ten out of ten. According to New York Now, the Medicare penalties will hit 721 hospitals across the U.S., although some hospitals, such as those in rural areas and those that deliver specialized treatments, will be exempt from the new measures.

Patient safety

The cuts are also showing that a hospital's reputation and size may have little benefit when it comes to complication rates. About half of the leading teaching hospitals in the U.S., for example, are being penalized for high complication rates, including some of the most well-known and respected institutions. The cuts will mean hospitals will lose out on a total of $373 million in Medicare funds this year.

The cuts are part of a greater focus that has been placed on hospital-acquired conditions in recent years, especially when it comes to infection rates. Although new Medicare funding guidelines have resulted in a significant drop in hospital infections, experts note that patient injuries remain one of the leading causes of death in the U.S. Despite hospital errors dropping by 17 percent in recent years, figures show that one in eight patients still suffer from a hospital-acquired condition.

Medical malpractice

Hospitals and health care facilities should be places where patients go to get better, not worse. As the above story shows, however, patient injuries are still far too common, even in some of the most well-respected hospitals. Many of these injuries are caused by hospital errors or by staff not taking proper precautions to protect patients. Anybody injured by an alleged act of medical malpractice should get in touch with an attorney to discuss their case. A well-qualified medical malpractice attorney can inform injured patients of what options they may have, including possible compensation to help deal with the injuries caused by potential malpractice.

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