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MedicarepenalizesHeywood Hospital; Facility scored high for patients acquiring further medical conditions.

Byline: George Barnes

GARDNER -- Heywood Hospital is one of 724 hospitals nationwide penalized by Medicare for having high scores for patients having hospital-acquired medical conditions.

A report released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) lists the Gardner hospital as one of 13 hospitals in Massachusetts to have its Medicare payments for the next year for discharges on or after October 2014 cut by 1 percent.

The penalty is the result of efforts to reduce hospital-acquired medical conditions through the Hospital-Acquired Condition Reduction Program.

H-ACR builds on a program started in 2008 to provide additional incentives to improve the quality of care delivered to patients, while at the same time providing value to taxpayers, according to a statement by the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services.

"As part of our efforts to improve quality, CMS began providing financial incentives to hospitals to improve patient safety by lowering a core set of hospital-acquired conditions patients may develop during their hospital stay,'' the statement added. "CMS will continue to build on the important incentive programs to keep patients as safe as possible in the health system.''

The calculations for determining the penalties are based on three measures associated with medical conditions acquired in hospitals. The measures include central line associated bloodstream infection, catheter-associated urinary tract infection and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality safety indicator 90, which is a composite measure of several conditions.

In ratings from 1 to 10, Heywood Hospital had an average of 8.65 for the three measures. Hospitals with averages above 7 were penalized. No other Central Massachusetts hospital was penalized. UMass Memorial Medical Center -- University Campus had one measure above 7, but its overall average was 6.35 and it was not assessed a penalty.

In a statement, Winfield S. Brown, president and chief executive officer of Heywood Hospital, said the information being used by CMS is dated.

"While CMS scores will be a useful tool for the public at some point in the future, they are based on data from several years ago, which does not actually reflect current quality measures and the high level of patient care that we provide today,'' Mr. Brown said.

According to the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services, the Hospital-Acquired Condition Reduction Program saves Medicare about $30 million annually due to a reduction in medical conditions. The total reduction in spending due to penalties to hospitals is $373 million.

The hospitals will be penalized for one year until Oct. 15, 2015. If their total scores drop to seven or lower, they will not be penalized for the next year.

Contact George Barnes at

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Title Annotation:Local
Author:Barnes, George
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Jan 3, 2015
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