In the government’s toughest effort yet to crack down on infections and other patient injuries, hospitals will have their Medicare payments docked.

 A quarter of the nation’s hospitals, those with the worst rates, will lose 1 percent of every Medicare payment for a year starting in October. In April, federal officials released a preliminary analysis of which hospitals would be assessed, identifying 761.

When Medicare sets final penalties later this year, that list may change because the government will be looking at performance over a longer period than it used to calculate the draft penalties. The sanctions, estimated to total $330 million over a year, kick in at a time when most infections measured in hospitals are on the decline, but still too common.

In 2012, one out of every eight patients nationally suffered a potentially avoidable complication during a hospital stay, the government estimates. Even infections that are waning are not decreasing fast enough to meet targets set by the government. Meanwhile new strains of antibiotic-resistant bacteria are making infections much harder to cure. Dr. Clifford McDonald, a senior adviser at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the worst performers “still have a lot of room to move in a positive direction.”

Source: U.S. News and World Reports

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