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Hospitals Brace for Next HAC Penalty

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, May 8, 2014

Avoidable Conditions
To target the new HAC penalty, CMS is using a composite of 10 avoidable types of harm the agency believes occur all too frequently during beneficiaries' acute care. That composite score will determine which of the 3,388 hospitals affected by the rule deserve a cut in pay, along with the public attention and embarrassment that comes with it.

The avoidable conditions CMS seeks to reduce include pressure ulcers, hip fractures after surgery, blood clots, lung injuries incurred during treatment, central line bloodstream infections, post-operative sepsis, and accidental punctures and lacerations.

Hospitals have known about this penalty since early 2010, and they've been trying like crazy to get their error rates under control. The first two-year performance period ended at the end of last year, and hospitals presumably will privately review their scores before they are publicly released later this summer, and we find out which hospitals scored the worst.

That's why it wasn't surprising when Wednesday, the Department of Health and Human Services released a report amid much fanfare saying that thanks to the effort of hospitals across the country in the last several years, the number of HACs has fallen.

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