Proposed Medicare rule would keep hospital infection and adverse event information away from the public eye

 

Medicare's Hospital Compare currently has a wealth of information regarding patient safety in different hospitals

 
June 20, 2018

As a Houston, Texas medical malpractice attorney, I take advantage of publicly-available data when investigating hospitals involved in potential cases.

One of my favorite sites is the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Hospital Compare website. This no-cost site allows patients to compare hospitals based on their overall star rating and to see how hospitals perform in several different measured indicators.

The federal government requires hospitals to report detailed data and statistics to CMS, so it can study the effectiveness of money paid to hospitals by Medicare and Medicaid. An additional benefit, of course, is that this information is publicly available.

This information is helpful to patients who are doing research to select a safe hospital for an elective surgery. It is also useful to experienced medical malpractice lawyers to determine whether potential negligence was an isolated incident or the common occurrence of the hospital.

That could all change, though, in November 2018, if a new rule proposed by CMS takes effect. The proposed rule would gut public disclosure of infection and safety measure statistics for hospitals on the Hospital Compare website, including rates for the super bug MRSA, sepsis, surgical site infections, bedsores, respiratory failure and other avoidable conditions.

I think that this is a step in the wrong direction, particularly because there are so few sources for reliable information that can be used to compare the performance of hospitals. These types of complications impact a lot of people, as well. Over 600,000 hospitalized patients contracted an infection each year. Sepsis alone kills about 270,000 Americans per year.

If you would like to see this detailed hospital information to continue to be disclosed, then you comment on the proposed CMS rule here.

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Robert Painter is a medical malpractice attorney at Painter Law Firm PLLC, in Houston, Texas. He is a former hospital administrator who represents patients and family members in medical negligence and wrongful death lawsuits against hospitals, physicians, surgeons, anesthesiologists, and other healthcare providers. A member of the board of directors of the Houston Bar Association, he was honored, in 2017, by H Texas as one of Houston’s top lawyers. In May 2018, the Better Business Bureau recognized Painter Law Firm PLLC with its Award of Distinction.

Robert Painter

Robert Painter is a medical malpractice lawyer at Painter Law Firm PLLC.

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