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Who's Being Transparent With HAC Data?

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, April 14, 2011

For months, the American Hospital Association argued against the public release of hospital-acquired condition data linked to specific hospitals.  Last week the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services made it public anyway.

CMS posted on Hospital Compare a link to a 26,888-line spreadsheet documenting rates of preventable harm, called hospital-acquired conditions or HACs, for each of 3,361 hospitals, culled from some 19 million Medicaredischarges.

The data makes public rates of falls and trauma, retained surgical objects, incompatible transfusions, poor glycemic control, vascular catheter-associated infections, catheter associated urinary tract infections, complications from pulmonary embolism, and stage III and IV pressure ulcers for each hospital.

Now payers, beneficiaries, and providers who can open a spreadsheet can see, for example, that at Florida's South Bay Hospital .751 per 1,000 discharged patients acquired pressure ulcers during their hospital stays.

Or that Presbyterian/St. Luke's Medical Center in Denver had nearly four vascular catheter-associated infections per 1,000 discharges while at Fresno Surgical Hospital in California there were 8.655 incidents of falls or other hospital-acquired traumatic incidents, such as shocks or burns.

To compare, hospitals such as Eastern Long Island Hospital, Peconic Bay Medical Center in New York, and Community Memorial Health Center in South Hill, VA reported none.

"Any potential preventable complication of care is unacceptable," Don Berwick MD, CMS administrator, said in a statement April 6.

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