Experts Question Medicare’s Effort To Rate Hospitals’ Patient Safety Records

Kaiser Health News By Jordan Rau – KHN Staff Writer:

his story was produced in collaboration with wapo  

Medicare’s first public effort to identify hospitals with patient safety problems has pinpointed many prestigious teaching institutions around the nation, raising concerns about quality at these places but also bolstering objections that the government’s measurements are skewed.

The Cleveland Clinic, Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, Pa., and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston were among those places having substantially more complications than the average hospital, according to data evaluated by the Medicare program. Major teaching hospitals were nearly 10 times as likely as other hospitals to be rated as having high rates of serious complications, a Kaiser Health News analysis of the data shows.

The new ratings are part of changes being phased in from the 2010 federal health law. A central tenet of the law was to tie Medicare reimbursement to a variety of measures, including how patients rate their stays, readmission and mortality rates and how closely hospitals adhere to basic guidelines for care.

The effort begins in October with a few initial metrics, and Medicare is poised to add the patient safety measures to the mix as early as the fall of 2013. The Obama administration believes adding such financial incentives into Medicare, the nation’s largest insurer covering 47 million seniors and disabled, will prod hospitals to lower costs and improve treatment. Read Full Article