Obama Administration Limits Public Disclosure of 8 Categories of “Hospital Acquire Conditions” for Medicare and Medicaid so the Public can’t Compare Hospitals

Monday, August 11, 2014
X-Ray of Donald Church with object left in abdomen

Federal health officials have decided to stop reporting serious medical mistakes committed in hospitals, making it more difficult for Americans to know which facilities to avoid for their health care.


The controversy centers around policy changes made at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which issues reports on so-called “hospital acquired conditions (HACs),” such as when surgeons accidentally leave sponges inside a patient’s body or a nurse causes air bubbles inside a person’s bloodstream.


CMS has decided it will no longer disclose eight types of HACs that patient-safety advocates and consumers used to access.


Officials in Washington, DC, defended the policy moves, claiming that it is unfair to compare hospital based on limited data  and that the information will still be available, although researchers will have to calculate rates themselves.


Patient-safety advocates disagreed with the changes, preferring the government restore, if not expand, the types of reporting data disclosed to the public.


USA Today reported last year that hospital mishaps, like foreign objects being left in patients’ bodies, may be occurring twice as often as what the government claims, up to 6,000 times a year.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Feds Stop Public Disclosure of Many Serious Hospital Errors (by Jayne O’Donnell, USA Today)

What Some Surgeons Leave behind Costs some Patients Dearly (by Peter Eisler, USA Today)

Hospital-Acquired Conditions (HAC) in Acute Inpatient Prospective Payment System (IPPS) Hospitals (Department of Health and Human Services) (pdf)



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