Federal Medicare Program Fines 13 South Carolina Hospitals for Patient Harm and Hospital Error
As the federal government works to reduce hospital errors, the Medicare program announced that it intends to penalize 700 hospitals in the United States, including 13 in South Carolina, by reducing federal health insurance payments by 1% for a fiscal year due to rates of patient harm and hospital-acquired infections.
South Carolina hospitals penalized include Palmetto Health Richland in Columbia, and Kershaw Health in Camden, which tied for worst overall score of hospital error in the state. The Medical University of South Carolina is the only Charleston-area hospital penalized.
The Medicare program provides health coverage for the elderly and disabled in the US. Prior to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which was passed in 2010, the Medicare program reimbursed hospitals based on number of patients which fit the criteria, which led to healthcare fraud and did nothing to prevent or reduce rates of patient harm or hospital error. Now, however, the ACA stipulates that hospitals may receive federal money only if they work to reduce their rates of hospital-acquired infections, readmissions, and surgical errors.
Dr. Rick Foster, the S.C. Hospital Association’s senior vice president for quality and patient safety, criticized the federal data, as it skewed results to those who are covered by the Medicare program. This skewing tends to disproportionately penalize academic medical centers, which are more willing than other hospitals to admit low-income patients, and take on more complicated cases than for-profit or community hospitals.
“That’s not just in South Carolina. That’s nationwide,” he said.
Hospital error is unfortunately common. One report showed that 6,000 foreign objects are left in patients during surgery every year, and for patients who survive, they have to undergo additional surgeries and could lose parts of their intestines or take prescription medication to treat blood clots and pain for the rest of their lives. Reporting hospital errors accurately is of vital importance to both hospitals and patients, and dropping metrics “defeats the purpose of being transparent,” said Nancy Foster, quality and patient-safety vice president for the American Hospital Association.
A study published earlier this month showed that, thanks to the ACA, rates of patient harm and hospital error were declining in the country. Between 2010 and 2013, according to the study – the first four years of new hospital requirements from the Affordable Care Act – rates of drug overdoses, hospital-acquired infections, falls, and bedsores, among many other hospital errors and types of patient harm declined 17%.
The Strom Law Firm Can Help Those Suffering from Hospital Errors
Each year, nearly 100,000 people die as a result of surgical errors, and many more suffer devastating personal consequences. Surgical errors, hospital acquired infections, and medical malpractice can ruin you and your loved ones’ lives, demanding time away from work and thousands of dollars in medical bills. If you or a loved one has suffered pain, patient death, and continuing health problems after surgery, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. The attorneys at the Strom Law Firm can help. We offer free consultations, so contact us today about your medical malpractice concerns. 803.252.4800.