Blog » 2016 » April » Rates of Hospital-Acquired Infections Cause Some Florida Facilities to be Penalized

Rates of Hospital-Acquired Infections Cause Some Florida Facilities to Be Penalized

We go to hospitals for relief from chronic illnesses, treatment of accidental injuries, corrective surgeries, and more. While hospitals are equated with healing, hospitalization can actually result in serous complications unrelated to the problem that caused admission in the first place. Common adverse events include medication errors, deep vein thrombosis, unnecessary procedures, anesthesia complications, and, the biggest risk of all, hospital-acquired infections (HAIs).

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), on any given day, approximately one in 25 hospital patients has at least one HAI. Describing the burden of HAIs on the healthcare system, the Multistate Point-Prevalence Survey reported that there were an estimated 648,000 patients with 721,800 health care–associated infections in U.S. acute care hospitals in 2011. Additionally, more than half of all HAIs occurred outside of the intensive care unit and about 75,000 patients with HAIs died during their hospitalizations. HAIs can be caused by bacteria, fungi, and viruses, as well as other less common types of pathogens. Certain medical devices and procedures carry a higher risk of infection, and certain patient populations have a higher risk of becoming infected.

South Florida Hospitals with Major Hospital-Acquired Infection Failures

  • Baptist Hospital of Miami
  • Broward Health Coral Springs
  • Good Samaritan Medical Center
  • Heart of Florida Regional Medical Center
  • Homestead Hospital
  • Jackson Memorial Hospital
  • JFK Medical Center
  • Kendall Regional Medical Center
  • Memorial Hospital Pembroke
  • Memorial Hospital West
  • Mount Sinai Medical Center
  • North Shore Medical Center
  • Northwest Medical Center
  • Palmetto General Hospital
  • Palms West Hospital
  • Plantation General Hospital
  • South Miami Hospital
  • West Kendall Baptist Hospital

The majority of all HAIs can be traced to a few specific types of infections:

  • Surgical site infections (SSI) – The risk varies according to the surgical location on the body.
  • Catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTI) – The risk increases the longer the catheter is in the body.
  • Central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSI) - These occur when a specialized catheter is inserted in a major vein to give fluid, blood, or medication.
  • Ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) – Unclean ventilator equipment can sicken those who require mechanical ventilation through an endotracheal tube or tracheostomy.
  • Clostridium difficile infections -- Commonly known as C-diff, this bacterial infection can cause symptoms ranging from diarrhea to life-threatening inflammation of the colon.
  • Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections -- This type of staph bacteria is resistant to many antibiotics.

In an effort to combat the problem, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) now ties Medicare payments to hospitals' infection metrics. Those that continue to have high numbers of HAIs are penalized with a one percent payment reduction to all Medicare discharges for a year. That may not sound like much, but in fact can equal millions of dollars saved by the federal government – and lost by underperforming hospitals.

For 2014, there were 721 hospitals nationwide that scored less than the national average on different infection metrics. UF Health Jacksonville and North Shore Medical Center in Miami scored the worst of the 49 Florida hospitals that failed to meet the metrics. For 2015, CMS revealed that 758 hospitals would be penalized for failing to reach the federal targets for hospital-acquired infections. The 758 out of 3,308 providers represented those in the worst performing quartile, the percentage of which jumped from 21.9 percent of hospitals in fiscal year 2015 to 22.9 percent of hospitals in fiscal year 2016. Thirty Florida hospitals ranked in the worst performing quartile, with the lowest scores going to Shands Jacksonville, Ed Fraser Memorial Hospital in Macclenny, and Gulf Coast Medical Center Lee Memorial Health System in Fort Myers.

Infections do not have to be an inevitable component of hospitalization. There are several simple measures that medical professionals can take to help keep patients safe, including the often-repeated hand-washing advice. If you or someone you love has become seriously ill as a result of a hospitalization, take a moment to learn more about how our firm can be of assistance to you. As one of South Florida's most respected and oldest law firms, Stabinski & Funt, P.A. has helped many people sort out their legal rights, responsibilities, and remedies. For 45 years, we have been the trusted advocates for countless personal injury victims and their families. We also work on a contingency basis, which means that if there is no recovery, there is no fee or cost to you. We encourage you to contact us for a free consultation by calling 305-643-3100 or filling out a case evaluation form.

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