Most Wis. hospitals likely won’t face penalty for infections

File photo.
File photo.

JANESVILLE (AP) – Most Wisconsin hospitals are unlikely to be penalized for high rates of patient infections, based on preliminary data released by the federal government and analyzed by Kaiser Health News.

The report shows 65 hospitals are subject to the penalties for high infection rates, complications and patient injuries.

But of those 65, only 26 had scores bad enough to be at the most serious risk of losing 1 percent of their Medicare payments from October through September 2015.

Scores from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are based on a two-year period, from the beginning of 2012 to the end of 2013. The preliminary scores come from June 2012 to July 2013, which means final scores may be different in October.

The penalties are a part of the federal health care overhaul law designed to improve patient safety and overall health outcomes.

Hospitals at most serious risk of facing the penalty are located throughout the state including Milwaukee, Green Bay, Madison, Eau Claire, Kenosha, Wausau, Appleton, Racine and Rhinelander. There were 761 hospitals nationwide ranked.

It’s too soon to know how many hospitals in the state may end up being penalized until the final report comes out later this year, said Kelly Court, chief quality officer at the Wisconsin Hospital Association. Court said Wednesday that the WHA is advising hospitals to be aware of the preliminary report but not overreact to its findings, given that it’s preliminary.

“There is a way for those numbers to go down,” said Kim Sveum, spokeswoman for St. Mary’s Janesville Hospital, one of the 26 with scores making it more likely they will be penalized. “The final report will contain two years’ worth of data and is what will be used as the basis for penalties. We’re confident once the expanded data set is used, our score will improve.”

For smaller hospitals such as St. Mary’s Janesville, just one infection can have a large impact on the score, Sveum told the Janesville Gazette in a story published Wednesday.

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