Three Iowa hospitals fined by Medicare for high infection rates

University of Iowa Hospitals among those that will see their funding cut

Three hospitals in Iowa will have their Medicare funding cut by about one percent due to high infection rates, according to the Des Moines Register. The hospitals, including the University of Iowa Hospitals, join hundreds of other facilities across the country that are facing penalties over patient safety concerns. The recently introduced fines are part of a broader effort by the federal government to lower infection rates and other preventable patient injuries.

Three hospitals fined

The three Iowa hospitals that are being fined by Medicare are Skiff Medical Center in Newton, Trinity Hospital in Bettendorf, and the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics in Iowa City. Each hospital faces a cut in its Medicare funding of about one percent, which could translate to a $1 million fine in the case of UI Hospitals. In total, nine percent of Iowa hospitals were fined, which was a relatively low rate, although dozens of rural facilities in the state were exempt from the penalties. The three facilities that were fined are among more than 700 hospitals nationwide that will be penalized by Medicare.

According to Kaiser Health News, the three hospitals facing these most recent fines were also been among the more than 30 hospitals in Iowa that were fined by Medicare in October over high patient readmission rates. So-called boomerang patients are considered an indicator that those patients failed to receive adequate care during their initial visits, thus necessitating a readmission.

Focus on infections

The latest Medicare cuts are part of a growing effort by federal authorities to bring down infection rates at health care facilities. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that about one in 25 patients at a U.S. hospital suffered a hospital-acquired infection in 2011, leading to about 75,000 deaths.

Experts note that bringing down infection rates often entails a simple change in behavior by medical staff. Many infections, for example, can be prevented by staff regularly washing their hands. Certain types of infections, such as those caused by catheters left in a patient for too long, are often the result of nurses or doctors failing to regularly check in on their patients.

Hospital errors

As this story shows, mistakes at hospitals can and do happen, including at some of the most well-respected institutions in the country. Patients who suffer an injury because of a mistake made by a hospital should understand that they have options available to them. Medical malpractice can often lead to injuries that require extra medical care and may necessitate taking time off work. In order to understand whether additional compensation can be sought to cover these expenses, victims of alleged malpractice should contact a medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible.