Hospitals question Medicare assessments of quality

Patient Safety Monitor Insider

February 15, 2012

Medicare identified many teaching hospitals across the country as having a substantially higher number of complications than average, adding to concerns among healthcare professionals that patient safety data may not be the best measure of hospital quality. Evaluations by Medicare do not take into account the severity of patients' illnesses or the high volume of complicated cases, according to leaders at the hospitals in question.

The data released by Medicare showed that teaching hospitals were 10 times more likely to have high complication rates compared to other hospitals. The rate of complications took into consideration the frequency of post-surgical blood clots, bedsores, hospital-acquired infections, patient falls, punctured lungs, and accidental cuts or tears among Medicare patients, which are thought to be indicative of the hospital's overall quality. Hospitals and independent specialists have already voiced concerns about the move towards tying hospital reimbursement to patient-satisfaction ratings and readmission rates, and continue to question Medicare's method for determining overall hospital quality.