Ten Kentucky hospitals—15% of the Kentucky hospitals assessed by the federal government—are subject to federal penalties because of their rates of hospital-acquired infections and patient injuries. Specifically, the following hospitals, along with 711 other hospitals in the nation, will have their Medicare payments cut by approximately $373 million during fiscal year 2015:
- Jackson Purchase Medical Center, Mayfield
- Jewish Hospital & St Mary’s Healthcare, Louisville
- Lourdes Hospital, Paducah
- Muhlenberg Community Hospital, Greenville
- Norton Hospitals, Inc., Louisville
- Saint Joseph East, Lexington
- St Elizabeth Edgewood, Lakeside Park
- St Elizabeth Florence, Florence
- University of Kentucky Hospital, Lexington
- University of Louisville Hospital, Louisville
According to Kaiser Health News, federal law requires that Medicare funding be cut for the hospitals that have the most hospital-acquired infections. These infections include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Infections from catheters
- Blood clots
- Bed sores
The government and medical experts believe that these types of hospital-acquired infections are avoidable if doctors and others use established techniques. Some of these techniques include hand washing, following surgical checklists, and entering physician orders on a computer.
While the percentage of avoidable errors has fallen in the United States since 2010, avoidable errors remain a common reason for hospital readmission, injury, and even death.
In fiscal year 2016, hospitals will be evaluated based on 2015 criteria and the rate of surgical site infections. The following year, the government will add the frequency of C. diff and MRSA infections to its evaluation.
The current sanctions are believed to be the most significant ever imposed against hospitals for avoidable errors. We do not yet know if they will result in better practices and fewer avoidable injuries for Kentucky hospital patients, but time will tell.
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