Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Medicare Cuts Funds to 4 Hospitals; Local Facilities Did Poorly on Patient Safety

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Medicare Cuts Funds to 4 Hospitals; Local Facilities Did Poorly on Patient Safety

Article excerpt

Byline: Andrew Pantazi & Tessa Duvall

The federal government cut payments to four Jacksonville hospitals because they are among the worst-performing hospitals when it comes to patient safety.

The list includes the Baptist Medical Center hospitals downtown and at the Beaches, Memorial Hospital and UF Health Jacksonville.

This is the third year the federal government has reduced pay to hospitals that have high rates of patient injury, also known as hospital-acquired conditions. Memorial and UF Health, along with Macclenny's Ed Fraser Memorial Hospital, have been dinged by the federal government each of those years.

In addition, Baptist Medical Center-Nassau, Flagler Hospital in St. Augustine and Putnam Community Medical Center in Palatka were each in the bottom quarter this year.

The federal government announced the hospital scores last month, based on six factors: patient-safety indicators, central line-associated bloodstream infection, catheter-associated urinary tract infection, surgical site infection and MRSA and Clostridium difficile infections.

The hospitals had their Medicare payments cut by 1 percent because they were in the bottom 25 percent on the cumulative scoring. Across the country, 769 hospitals had their payments cut, and 241 hospitals, like Memorial and UF Health, were in the bottom quarter for each of the last three years.

"UF Health Jacksonville takes these results very seriously," said UF Health spokesman Dan Leveton. "We have improvement plans in place and we have already seen significant positive impacts in scoring on several key measures, including rates of catheter associated urinary tract infections, which have decreased by 69% since 2014, and central line associated bloodstream infections, which have decreased by 47% since 2014. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services use multiple years for these measures, so previous rates are still factored in, but our current rates as mentioned above are excellent, and we expect to see improvement in our reported data over time as we turn in those results."

Nationally, hospital-acquired conditions have dropped significantly from 2010 to 2015, according to a report by the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality that was released last month. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimated the 21-percent drop in hospital-acquired conditions saved the country $28 billion in health care costs.

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell cited the Affordable Care Act, which created the program that gives pay incentives and pay cuts to hospitals based on their patient-safety performance, as helping hospitals renew their focus on patient safety. …

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