Hospital lands on list for high infection, injury rate

Published 6:12 am Saturday, December 26, 2015

L.V. Stabler Memorial Hospital was one of seven Alabama hospitals penalized for injuries and infections by The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

L.V. Stabler Memorial Hospital was one of seven Alabama hospitals penalized for injuries and infections by The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

L.V. Stabler Memorial Hospital was one of seven Alabama hospitals penalized for injuries and infections.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced this month that 758 of the nation’s hospitals — about 23 percent of all eligible hospitals — would be penalized for patient safety lapses in the second year of the Hospital-Acquired Condition Reduction Program, which was passed as part of the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

The hospitals were penalized for falling into the bottom 25 percent for comparatively high rates of avoidable infections and other complications, such as pressure sores and post-operative blood clots.

Hospitals receive a Hospital-Acquired Condition score between 1 and 10. Penalties were imposed to hospitals that received a score greater than 6.75.

The other six Alabama hospitals penalized this year were Brookwood Medical Center, Springhill Medical Center, Shoals Hospital, Russellville Hospital, DCH Regional Medical Center and Northwest Medical Center.

Hospitals on the list could lose 1 percent of their Medicare funding as a penalty in the 2016 fiscal year.

The penalties for hospital-acquired conditions were passed as part of the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

Officials with L.V. Stabler Memorial Hospital said the hospital was penalized in part because of how the scores are calculated.

“L.V. Stabler Memorial Hospital is committed to providing patients with safe, quality patient care. We have been recognized for that commitment by the Joint Commission the last five years for achieving excellence on key quality measures,” said L.V. Stabler spokesperson David Norrell. “We have in place rigorous education and training requirements for infection prevention, which has resulted in no catheter associated urinary tract infections and central line-associated blood stream infections in over five years. These results are made possible through the collaboration between employees and medical staff and consistent attention to processes of care.
It is important to note that, due to the small number of annual cases at our hospital, just one infection dramatically impacts the hospital’s performance. For example, while there were two incidents during the reporting period, it significantly increased our hospital’s overall score. However, the safety of our patients continues to be our number one priority. Through the dedication of our physicians and employees, and consistent attention to processes of care, we continue to identify and follow best practices that strengthen our quality.”

The goal of the penalties is to improve quality and reduce preventable injuries at acute care hospitals, but they are controversial since Medicare is required to punish a quarter of hospitals nationwide each year, regardless of whether individual hospitals have shown significant improvements over time.

The penalties also strip funding from hospitals that may already be operating in the red.

In total, Medicare expects the penalties to cost hospitals $364 million in fiscal year 2016.

L.V. Stabler Memorial Hospital was just recently named a “top performer on key quality measures” the Joint Commission, which accredits health care organizations across the country.

The Joint Commission uses performance in evidence-based clinical processes including care for heart attack, pneumonia, surgery, children’s asthma, stroke, venous thromboembolism, inpatient psychiatric services, and immunizations for pneumonia and influenza to make its determinations.

L. V. Stabler Memorial Hospital was recognized for its treatment of heart failure, pneumonia and for its surgical care.

The “Top Performer” designation is awarded to hospitals “who attain and sustain excellence in clinical care,” according to the commission. Recognition in the Joint Commission’s “Top Performers on Key Quality Measures” program is based on an aggregation of accountability measure data reported to the Joint Commission during the previous calendar year. This year’s program results are based on data that were reported for 2014.