CMS releases hospital-by-hospital data on never events

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

About nine months after its original due date, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have overcome industry opposition and made data for hospital acquired conditions publicly available online. The data come in a 1.2 MB zip file, inside of which you’ll find a hulking 26,889-line spreadsheet.

The sheet breaks down the nation’s 4,700 or so hospitals, using Medicare fee-for-service claims from October 2008 through June 2010, based on the rates of eight different “never events,” each of which is compared with the national rate for the event in question. The hospitals can be sorted by name and state. Below, I’ve illustrated the national rates for all included HACs.

hac

According to MedPage Today’s Emily Walker, CMS published the data to help patients make informed decisions and to help hospitals improve their quality of care. They did so, she points out, over strenuous industry objections.

The data was originally scheduled to be published in September 2010 but was met with strong resistance from hospital groups such as the American Hospital Association (AHA); the groups say that CMS never made specifics available for how it calculates the HAC rates, making “fundamental assessments of the accuracy of capturing the incidence of these conditions” impossible to conduct.

“Hospitals continue to urge CMS not to publish these data,” read a March 31 joint statement from the AHA, the Federation of American Hospitals and the Association of American Medical Colleges.

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