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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Medicare tells N.J. hospitals they must do more on patient care, safety

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The penalties levied by Medicare against more than one-third of the state’s hospitals over patient-safety issues make clear that New Jersey has a long way to go to make hospital stays safer, experts say.
Twenty-three hospitals statewide, including six in North Jersey, face cuts of 1 percent in their Medicare reimbursement for the year that began Oct. 1. The penalties mean millions of dollars in lost revenue because the government insurance program starting at 65 is the single largest payer for most hospitals.
But “forget about the fact that it’s costing a lot of money,” said David Knowlton, the chief executive of the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute, a non-profit group that promotes quality, safety, accountability and cost containment in health care. “These hospital-acquired conditions cause a lot of pain.”
Bloodstream and urinary-tract infections that develop because of unsanitary practices in the hospital, as well as collapsed lungs, bedsores, and broken hips from hospital falls contribute to the deaths of an estimated 180,000 Medicare patients nationwide each year. They extend some hospital stays, necessitating additional treatment, and increase the cost of care.
More alarming than New Jersey’s hospitals’ poor performance, compared with that of hospitals in other states, he said, was the fact that the problems cited involved care of the elderly.
The government data upon which...
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Jon L. Gelman of Wayne NJ is the author of NJ Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thompson-Reuters) and co-author of the national treatise, Modern Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thompson-Reuters). For over 4 decades the Law Offices of Jon L Gelman  1.973.696.7900  have been representing injured workers and their families who have suffered occupational accidents and illnesses.