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Medicare Identifies Best And Worst Hospitals For Hip And Knee Replacements

New analysis is part of government’s effort to improve quality of care (December 17)

According to a report from the Kaiser Family Foundation, Medicare has begun tracking the outcomes of hip and knee replacement surgeries, identifying 95 hospitals where elderly patients were more likely to suffer significant setbacks. The government also named 97 hospitals where patients tended to have the smoothest recoveries.

The analysis, which was released last week, is the latest part of the government’s push to improve quality at the nation’s hospitals instead of simply paying Medicare patients’ bills. Medicare already assesses hospital death rates, how consistently hospitals follow basic medical guidelines, and how patients rate their stays. The evaluation of hip and knee surgery outcomes is significant because for the first time, Medicare is rating hospitals’ performance on two common elective procedures.

Of the 95 hospitals where knee and hip surgery patients experienced difficulties after the operation, nine were rated as having both high readmissions and high complication rates. Those hospitals were: Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee; Grant Medical Center in Columbus, Ohio; Mercy St. Anne Hospital in Toledo, Ohio; Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago; the Pennsylvania Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania Health System in Philadelphia; Peterson Regional Medical Center in Kerrville, Texas; Reston Hospital Center in Reston, Va.; Shannon Medical Center in San Angelo, Texas, and Southside Regional Medical Center in Petersburg, Va.

Of the 97 hospitals that did better than average in avoiding either readmissions or complications, 25 were rated as being better at both measures. Those included some big hospitals, such as Sutter General Hospital in Sacramento, Calif., and the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan. They also included some local hospitals, such Holy Cross Hospital in Fort Lauderdale, and several physician-owned hospitals that specialize in these types of surgeries, such as Arkansas Surgical Hospital in Little Rock.

Hospitals may soon feel a financial pinch from the evaluations. Medicare plans to add hip and knee readmission rates to the criteria it uses when deciding whether to penalize hospitals each year.

Source: Kaiser Health News; December 17, 2013.

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