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Doctor errors, medical mistakes lead to cut in Medicare funding

Imagine going to the hospital for help for a sickness but instead catching an illness that makes you worse. That's the last thing that anyone wants to have happen, and Medicare has decided to slash payments to hospitals that have high infection and injury rates. According to the news report, 721 hospitals suffered from the payment cuts. These penalties were assessed against some of the most renowned hospitals in the United States, too; some included Brigham, the Cleveland Clinic and Women's Hospital in Boston.

Because of the injury rates, one out of every seven hospitals in the United States is expected to have their Medicare payments reduced by 1 percent from Oct. 1, 2014 until September 2015. The federal health law mandates that hospitals with the highest numbers of hospital-acquired conditions must have their Medicare payments reduced.

What are some of the common conditions that were assessed? According to the story, infections from catheters, bed sores, blood clots and other complications were all considered. These penalties are being used at the same time that hospitals have been working with programs designed to help reduce avoidable medical errors. Some have been successful, as a federal report between 2010 and 2013 has shown that mistakes had dropped by 17 percent nationally. Even though there was a significant drop in the number of injuries, patients are still being hurt at a rate of one per every eight hospital admissions.

These fines and penalties are in addition to state fines. Medicare can choose to drop dangerous hospitals from the program, but that, in many cases, means that the hospital will fail financially. That could lead it to close despite the need for a hospital in an area.

Source: Healthcare Finance News, "Medicare slashes payments to hospitals with high infection, injury rates" Dec. 19, 2014

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