Indianapolis News and Headlines


Indiana hospitals penalized for patient safety

Posted at 9:09 PM, Dec 16, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-16 21:09:45-05

INDIANAPOLIS -- The federal government will penalize 20 Indiana hospitals with higher rates of patient safety incidents and complications, Medicare records show.

Among the hospitals getting punished for the first time are Indiana University Health North Hospital in Carmel, Riverview Health in Noblesville, and Franciscan St. Francis Health in Carmel.

Records show some Indiana hospitals, including Eskenazi Health and Community Howard Regional Health in Kokomo, were also fined last year for the same thing.

This is the second year of the Hospital-Acquired Conditions Reduction Program, which was mandated by the federal health law to reduce patient injuries.

The fines are based on the federal government’s review of the rate of several kinds of potentially avoidable patient complications and injuries such as bed sores, falls and blood clots.

The penalized hospitals will have their Medicare payments reduced by one percent next year, which will likely mean the loss of millions of dollars.

When contacted by Call 6 Investigates, a spokesperson for Eskenazi Health directed inquires to the Indiana Hospital Association.

The Indiana Hospital Association told Call 6 Investigates 116 hospitals have been working to improve patient safety and decrease hospital readmissions through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ Partnership for Patients campaign, which launched in 2012.

“When it comes to patient safety, Indiana hospitals don’t compete with one another – they collaborate to share best practices, address regional needs and work together on quality improvements for the sake of their patients and the communities they serve,” said Doug Leonard, president of IHA. “We are extremely proud of the results achieved during the Partnership for Patients campaign that highlight the tremendous accomplishments of our hospitals and reflect leadership commitment to quality and patient safety.” 

Al Larsen, spokesperson for Community Howard Regional Health, said patients would not be impacted by the penalty.

“Community Health Network’s top priority is the safety and well-being of its patients, and therefore, continually looks to improve upon its standards of care,” said Larsen. “The data utilized by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that resulted in its action affecting Community Howard Regional Health is from 2013. Since that time, Community Howard has reduced those specific hospital-acquired conditions by more than 87 percent and has experienced zero conditions during 2015. That improvement is a testament to Community’s culture of continual performance improvement and Community’s commitment to exceptional patient care.”

A spokesperson for Franciscan St. Francis Health said its Carmel facility, which was penalized for federal fiscal year 2016, is committed to patient safety.

“While we applaud all efforts to promote patient safety, the report does not provide enough context to explain how our hospital was placed into this category,” said Joe Stuteville, spokesperson for Franciscan St. Francis Health. “Franciscan St. Francis Health-Carmel is a specialized six-bed hospital and does not have an intensive care unit, emergency department, nor does it perform procedures such as colon surgeries or abdominal hysterectomies, which HAC factors into its report.”

Stuteville said the low score assigned to Carmel is related to a single incident in 2013.

“These factors, combined with Carmel’s low patient volume and above factors, impacts the HAC rating,” said Stuteville.

758 hospitals nationwide are being penalized for 2016 because of patient safety, Medicare records show.

The American Hospital Association criticizes the feds’ system of penalizing hospitals, saying it unfairly punishes hospitals that care for the sickest patients and disproportionately impacts teaching and urban hospitals.

According to IHA’s Indiana Patient Safety Center, 4,690 harms were prevented by Indiana hospitals, resulting in an estimated $22.3 million in health care cost savings over a three year period.

Jen Dial, spokesperson for St. Vincent, told Call 6 Investigates “quality and safety is at the core of everything we do.”

“The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services report covers 2012 and 2014, and does not reflect our yearly improvements over time in readmissions, hospital acquired infections, and many other patient safety priorities,” said Dial in a statement to RTV6. “This remains our top priority.” 


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