Posted by Bill Sandweg on 22 March 2019.
I am not the only one who believes that there are patient safety problems at Arizona hospitals. Medicare has announced that it is penalizing 15 Arizona hospitals for high rates of infection and patient safety issues. The Arizona 15 are among 800 hospitals across the country identified by Medicare.
The hospitals being penalized will lose 1% of their Medicare payments for patients discharged between last October and the end of this September. This is some serious money. The safety program was created by the Affordable Care Act and is intended to force hospitals to pay more attention to patient safety issues. As I am sure you can guess, nothing gets the attention of a hospital administrator more quickly than losing money she expected to receive.
This safety program has been in effect for five years. This year’s “winners” are John C. Lincoln North Mountain (Phoenix), Maricopa Medical Center (Phoenix), Banner Payson Medical Center (Payson), Chandler Regional Medical Center (Chandler), St. Luke’s Medical Center (Phoenix), HonorHealth Osborn Hospital (Scottsdale), Canyon Vista Medical Center (Sierra Vista), Kingman Regional Medical Center (Kingman), Banner – University Medical Center Tucson Campus (Tucson), Sells Hospital (Sells), Abrazo Scottsdale Campus (Scottsdale), Chinle Comprehensive Health Care Facility (Chinle), Honor Health Deer Valley Medical Center (Phoenix), Banner Gateway Medical Center (Gilbert), and Banner Ironwood Medical Center (Queen Creek).
Maricopa Medical Center, Banner – University Medical Center Tucson Campus and Sells Hospital have been on the list every year since it debuted in 2015. HonorHealth Deer Valley and Banner Ironwood have made the list four out of the five years.
As reported by Kaiser Health News, “The penalties pit hospitals against one another in a race to prevent the most infections, blood clots, cases of sepsis, bedsores, hip fractures and other complications. Each year, the quarter of general hospitals with the highest rates are punished, even if their records have improved from the previous year.”
Unsurprisingly, hospitals consider the penalties to be unfair and not an accurate reflection of their commitment to patient safety. But facts are facts and these hospitals have the highest rates of complications indicative of poor patient safety.
This list serves at least two important purposes. First and foremost, it is notice to patients that they need to ask questions if they are considering being admitted to one of these hospitals. Often we have a choice in hospitals and it is important to get as much information about the people who will be caring for us as possible. Second, the hospitals are given a financial incentive to improve their patient care. It is amazing what a financial incentive can sometimes accomplish.
As always, be an informed consumer of health care and you have the best chance of avoiding malpractice and ever having to visit me.