Fines targeting infections hit 26 percent of New York hospitals

Medicare funding cut to 41 New York State hospitals over preventable conditions

Medicare has levied fines against 26 percent of hospitals in New York State over high rates of infections and other hospital-acquired conditions (HAC), according to Buffalo News. The fines are part of an attempt to encourage hospitals to make greater strides in bringing down hospital errors, which lead to hundreds of thousands of patient deaths each year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), while improvements have been made in recent years to bring down hospital infection rates, the risk to patients remains unacceptably high.

New York hospitals hit

In total, 41 New York hospitals, about 26 percent of hospitals in the state, will see their Medicare funding cut by one percent due to high HAC rates. Nationally, 724 health care facilities received fines, or about 25 percent of the institutions that were assessed by federal authorities.

Medicare rated hospitals on infection rates and other preventable conditions, such as bed sores and falls, on a scale of one to ten. Any hospital that scored above seven had its Medicare funding cut. The average score for New York hospitals was 5.8. Advocates of the new fines say they help ensure bad practices, such as poor staff hygiene, do not go unpunished. They hope the fines will eventually lead to improved patient safety.

Infections declining, but remain high

The fines are just the latest example of a concerted effort made by federal officials to bring down HAC rates, especially patient infection rates. As Reuters recently reported, the CDC released a report saying that while overall infection rates have dropped at U.S. hospitals, they are not falling fast enough. They note that one in 25 patients suffers a hospital infection everyday in the country.

While some infections, such as blood infections caused by central line catheters and surgery-related infections, have seen dramatic reductions in recent years, problems have persisted. Urinary tract infections related to urinary catheters, for example, rose by six percent between 2008 and 2013. Such infections are often caused by the catheter being left in a patient for too long or being improperly inserted.

Medical malpractice

Hospitals are expected to deliver the best care possible to patients, but as the above article shows, reality often falls far short of such expectations. Every year countless numbers of patients are injured or pass away because of the negligence or recklessness of medical staff and professionals.

Anybody who has been the victim of alleged medical malpractice should seek legal representation. An experienced medical malpractice attorney can help victims not only recover compensation for their suffering, but, in pursuing a claim, can also discourage similar alleged negligence from being repeated in the future.