UVA Health System Penalized by Medicare for Safety Issues Again

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The University of Virginia Health System is among the more than 700 hospitals slapped on the wrist by Medicare for safety issues. This is the second year in a row UVA has been punished for having high patient injury rates.

The UVA Medical Center has been hit with Medicare penalties, yet again, for patients developing bed sores, bloodstream infections, and other complications. But, doctors say, that's because they treat extremely sick patients.

“We take care of very sick patients and we end up on the list sort of as a natural consequence of really the severity of the illness and the fact that we treat everyone," said Dr. Chris Ghaemmaehami, the chief medical officer of UVA Health System.  

These penalties were created by the Affordable Care Act four years ago. The idea is to penalize hospitals that have a high rate of blood clots, infections, and mishaps as a financial incentive to try to prevent these things from happening.   

In an article by Kaiser Health News, they say, most penalties fell on teaching hospitals, like UVA. The 751 hospitals on the list will lose 1 percent of Medicare payments over the fiscal year. For UVA, that's around $5 million.   

Ghaemmaehami adds that they're working very hard to get off the list, and have seen a reduction in their catheter urinary tract infections by 70 percent.    

There are 15 medical centers from Virginia on the list. The data is based off individual reports created by each hospital.