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Program to reduce hospital-acquired illnesses shows “no evidence” of working, according to study

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A new study out of the University of Michigan found that a program to reduce hospital-acquired illnesses may not be effective.

In 2013 the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services began the Hospital-Acquired Condition Reduction Program - it levies fines against hospitals with a high incidence of negative patient outcomes.

Dr. Andrew Ryan worked on the study evaluating the program. He said their analysis of Michigan hospitals before and after the program went into place suggests it doesn’t work.

“We saw no evidence that this specific penalty program that penalized hospitals for higher rates of hospital acquired conditions spurred additional improvement in patient safety,” he said.

Ryan said one problem seems to be hospitals essentially have to self-report incidences that might subject them to a fine.

“When hospitals are responsible for basically self reporting these patient safety events and are simultaneously subject to financial penalties for high rates of reporting reporting might not be as complete as it should be.”

The good news is that patient outcomes appear to be improving on their own. Ryan said there has been a steady decrease in Hospital Acquired Conditions both before and after the program went into place.