Patients Cut Off from Key Hospital Safety Information

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has taken a troubling step backwards this month that could put all patient’s safety at risk. From now on, CMS will no longer publicly report eight conditions Americans can develop due to poor care called: “hospital acquired conditions” (HACs). 

These conditions include:

  • pressure ulcer stages III and IV; 
  • falls and trauma; 
  • surgical site infection after bariatric surgery, certain orthopedic procedures, and bypass surgery; 
  • vascular-catheter associated infection; 
  • catheter-associated urinary tract infection; 
  • administration of incompatible blood; 
  • air embolism; and 
  • foreign object unintentionally retained after surgery.

The USA Today reported that this data is still being used by CMS, but not available to patients:

Although CMS and the American Hospital Association question the reliability of the data on mistakes including foreign objects left behind after surgery, those data are considered reliable enough to penalize hospitals. Additional Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement is withheld if treatment is related to one of the eight HACs.

Patients need this critical safety information to make informed decisions when it comes to their health care. 

The USA Today continued:

CMS said it's working on new ways of measuring HACs that would represent some of the most common adverse events in hospitals; the HACs that are no longer publicly available are considered rare events that should never happen in hospitals. That makes them both harder to track — and, patient-safety experts say, more important for consumers to know about.

Research tells us 440,000 patients die every year from preventable medical errors and countless more are injured. We need more accountability and transparency in your health care system, not less.