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Four Local Hospitals Penalized For Avoidable Complications

Hospitals penalized for avoidable complications will lose 1 percent of their Medicare reimbursements in 2016.
Hospitals penalized for avoidable complications will lose 1 percent of their Medicare reimbursements in 2016.

Four Kansas City area hospitals are among 758 nationwide being penalized by Medicare for hospital-acquired infections and other complications that Medicare considers avoidable.

The hospitals are:

  • Blue Valley Hospital
  • Menorah Medical Center 
  • The University of Kansas Hospital
  • Truman Medical Center Hospital Hill

Under Medicare’s Hospital-Acquired Conditions Reduction Program, the four will see their 2016 Medicare payments lowered by 1 percent.

The program was established by the Affordable Care Act of 2010, or Obamacare, and aims to reduce medical errors and improve patient safety. The program penalizes hospitals that rank in the worst-performing 25 percent.

The fines are based on the frequency of various infections, hip fractures, collapsed lungs, sepsis and other complications.

This is the program’s second round.  In the first round a year ago, 11 area hospitals, including three of this year’s four – Truman, Menorah and KU – got hit with penalties.

The penalized hospitals were ranked on a score of 1 to 10, with 10 being the worst. Blue Valley Hospital scored a 9.25, followed by Truman, 8.0; KU, 7.75; and Menorah, 7.25.

Dr. Tim Williamson, vice president of quality and safety at KU Hospital, said in an email that the penalties were based on older data, which he compared to looking in a rearview mirror.

“We at The University of Kansas Hospital are focused on current data. What is our safety reduction today?  We have robust teams working daily on multiple safety initiatives (including more areas than Medicare reports) and tracking our progress to keep patients safe,” Williamson said.

“Our data shows significant improvements such as recent substantial progress in reducing central line infections.  Having said that, all hospitals have room to do better and we are working toward zero harm daily. It’s a challenge when you care for the sickest of the sick, complex patients with compromised immune systems and at high risk for infection, but are absolutely committed to this important goal.”   

Representatives of Truman, Menorah and Blue Valley did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Dan Margolies, editor of the Heartland Health Monitor team, is based at KCUR. You can reach him on Twitter @DanMargolies.

Copyright 2015 KCUR 89.3

Dan was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. and moved to Kansas City with his family when he was eight years old. He majored in philosophy at Washington University in St. Louis and holds law and journalism degrees from Boston University. He has been an avid public radio listener for as long as he can remember – which these days isn’t very long… Dan has been a two-time finalist in The Gerald Loeb Awards for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism, and has won multiple regional awards for his legal and health care coverage. Dan doesn't have any hobbies as such, but devours one to three books a week, assiduously works The New York Times Crossword puzzle Thursdays through Sundays and, for physical exercise, tries to get in a couple of rounds of racquetball per week.
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