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Hospital Penalized for Number of Preventable Medical Mistakes

One type of patient safety program implemented in several areas involves linking state payments with their performance on standardized measurements of medical care quality. This is accomplished by having a review board set the rates at which hospitals are capable of charging for certain procedures. For example, if a hospital has what is deemed an unacceptable level of medical mistakes in a given period, that facility will have its maximum charge amount lowered.

The Baltimore Sun wrote last week on nine different hospitals in its area that faced just such penalties because of poor medical care. The hospitals in this case were involved in a program that keeps track of nearly 50 different medical complications-problems that hospitals should be able to prevent with proper care free of medical malpractice. Those include blood clots, urinary tract infections, and similar issues. The hospitals that perform worst on these measurements as compared to other hospitals are then penalized for their care. The inverse is also true, with the best performing hospitals receiving a financial boost for their commitment to ensuring patient safety.

Thus far the new programs are seeing some success. One commission reports that complication rates are falling and costs are actually being saved-one state had a 12% reduction in complications with nearly $62 million in healthcare savings. The ability to make improvements in these areas is clear when hospitals have real incentives to make the changes.

One advocate explained the benefit of the programs seeking to “show patients and people who pay for health care where they are getting their best value. That’s a combination of efficiency and quality.”

Our Chicago medical malpractice attorneys at Levin & Perconti are supportive of all innovative programs that attempt to improve patient safety. With the continued misguided emphasis placed on limiting medical victim rights, it is refreshing to read about efforts that value to average citizen and patient.

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