Nine New Hampshire hospitals have been penalized by Medicare for high readmission rates. The penalties are part of a program designed to improve quality of care under the Affordable Care Act.
St. Joseph's was the highest penalized hospital in the Granite State and was penalized by the federal agency for the second year in a row.
Medicare considers readmissions, especially soon after a discharge, as problematic that may suggest poor care or a medical error.
Starting this month, hospitals will also be evaluated concerning a new standard. According to NHPR, "And starting this month hospitals will be judged and possibly penalized based on another new measure.
"There’s now a 30-day death penalty," says Jeremiah Brown, an assistant professor at the Dartmouth Institute.
You heard that right: a death penalty. If patients leaving a hospital die at a rate higher than the national average, that hospital will lose revenue from Medicare."
While it is obviously bad news that our hospitals are being penalized for failing to meet such standards, it's a good sign that the federal government is taking the necessary measures to evaluate the quality of healthcare.
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