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Hospitals Face Medicare Funding Reductions Due to High Infection Rates

DEC 23, 2016 | EINAV KEET
The HAC program is part of an effort to impact the quality of care in the US healthcare system and reduce the number of infections acquired by patients during hospitalization. In a 2013 study in the CMS publication Medicare & Medicaid Research Review, researchers compared the rate of some hospital-acquired infections in relation to Medicare penalties implemented under previous measures and found that the rate of hospital-acquired infections went down in response to those policies. In Virginia, where the Virginia Commonwealth University Health System was one of 19 hospitals affected by the recent CMS announcement, VCU officials noted that the agency’s ranking does not reflect progress made within their system of healthcare facilities.
“In Federal Fiscal Year 2016, 62% of the nation’s academic medical centers will face penalties for higher HAC scores,” said a recent VCU statement released to Contagion. “The data used to determine the total HAC score is not risk-adjusted for hospitals such as VCU Medical Center, which is the commonwealth’s largest safety-net provider. As an academic medical center, and the region’s only Level I trauma center, VCU Medical Center provides a significantly higher level of care to a disproportionate share of patients who are among the sickest and most complex to treat. VCU Health has an evidence-based infection prevention program that tracks process and outcome measures. We are relentlessly pursuing high reliability in all aspects of the infection prevention program. As such, we are expecting to have fewer infections in 2016 when compared to 2015, consistent with our trend of decreasing hospital-acquired infections over the past 14 years.”
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