Hospitals to face sanctions for preventable injuries, infections

3 local hospitals currently in penalty zone

By Matt Galka, Francine Frazier - Senior web editor
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Preventable patient injuries and infections are going to start costing hospitals.

Under the Affordable Care Act, a new patient safety penalty sanction will be laid down on hospitals across the country -- and, potentially, more than 30 in Florida.

Nationally, hospitals are expected to be on the hook for more than $330 million because of safety issues.

The Hospital Acquired Condition Reduction program, which takes effect in October, will reduce Medicare payments for hospitals with the worst patient injury rates. Based on data from 2012, 31 Florida hospitals are at risk, including three locally.

DOCUMENT: Full penalty scale list of Florida hospitals (PDF)

"The differences between these hospitals and those that are not named, you know, can be very insignificant," said Bill Bell, General Counsel of the Florida Hospital Association.

The federal program will penalize the hospitals in the country that scored in the bottom 25 percent for patient safety.

Hospitals were measured on a 10-point scale and any score above a seven puts a hospital in the penalty zone. The injuries being measured include infections, falls and blood clots.

Locally, the Ed Fraser Memorial Hospital in Baker County (8.95), UF Health Jacksonville (8.7) and Memorial Hospital Jacksonville (7.675) are currently over the penalty threshold.

"The hospitals' basic mission is to improve patient care," Bell said. "They've already been working on that, and this is one of the best times to be a patient in healthcare today."

A report from the federal Department of Health and Human Services says that patients have about a one-in-four chance of suffering a preventable injury at a hospital.

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