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Medicare fines hit 22 Ohio hospitals due to patient injury rates

On behalf of John Smith

High patient infection and injury rates lead to Medicare funding cuts

The federal government is cracking down on hospitals with unacceptably high rates of infections and patient injuries, known as hospital-acquired conditions (HAC). According to Kaiser Health News, 22 hospitals in Ohio will face Medicare fines for having high rates of hospital errors. In total, hundreds of hospitals across the country, including some with the most prestigious reputations, are being hit by the fines that are designed to improve patient safety.

Ohio hospitals hit

The 22 hospitals that were fined by Medicare account for about 17 percent of all hospitals in the state that were assessed by federal authorities. Compared to neighboring states, that rate is somewhere in the middle. While Michigan, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia all saw a greater percentage of their hospitals fined (at 22, 25, and 21 percent respectively), Indiana (at 15 percent) and Kentucky (at 16 percent) both had lowers rates of fined hospitals.

Hospitals will lose one percent of their Medicare funding for having high rates of HACs, including blood infections and preventable injuries such as bed sores and broken bones caused by falls. Across the U.S., 721 hospitals are being fined by Medicare, including some with prestigious reputations, like the Cleveland Clinic and the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.

Preventing patient deaths

As Forbes recently noted, the fines, totaling $373 million, are the toughest yet handed down by Medicare. The action is part of recent efforts by both federal authorities and private firms to help bring down hospital errors. A September 2013 report found that at least 210,000 patients die every year because of such errors, although the real figure could be as high as 400,000.

Medicare has also begun cutting funding to hospitals that have high readmission rates for certain conditions. The goal of all of these measures is to encourage hospitals to actually take steps to provide quality care to patients. Prior to recent legislative reforms, hospitals could get Medicare funding simply for the amount of care they provided rather than the quality of such care, a situation that, according to some experts, encouraged hospitals to "keep patients sick".

Hospital errors

Mistakes by staff and professionals at health care facilities cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of people every year, not to mention the many more who are injured. As the above story shows, this public safety issue has become a major one both for federal authorities and countless patients.

People who may have been injured by the mistake or negligence of a health care provider should get in touch with a medical malpractice attorney. Holding medical staff responsible for their alleged negligence can not only help victims receive the compensation they may need during recovery, but can also prevent such negligence from happening to other patients.