New Jersey Medical Malpractice Firm Console & Hollawell Warns Patients of Hospitals with High Readmission Rates

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A new list compiled by the federal government is not something any medical facility will want to be included on as it shows which hospitals will be facing a penalty due to their high “bounce-back” rates or how quickly their patients need to be readmitted to the hospital following their initial visit, according to News Works.

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Some policy researchers and health care practitioners assert that the relatively high readmission rates for patients with chronic illness and others may be due to various factors.

A new list compiled by the federal government is not something any medical facility will want to be included on as it shows which hospitals will be facing a penalty due to their high “bounce-back” rates or how quickly their patients need to be readmitted to the hospital following their initial visit, according to News Works.* While medical facilities may not want this information available to the public, medical malpractice attorneys in Camden are praising the government for acknowledging this issue and how it relates to proper patient care.

The attorneys at Console & Hollawell, P.C. have seen a large volume of medical malpractice in New Jersey, and that has not gone unnoticed by the government. In 2010 the Congressional Research Service conducted a full study into the relationship between readmissions and their impact on healthcare costs and patient safety. The report suggested the high rates of hospital readmission could be speaking to a larger issue, namely the quality of care given to Medicare patients. “Many argue that the quality of care provided is not adequate for persons with multiple chronic conditions, or for other groups…In the face of rapid cost growth and concerns about quality, Congress recently debated methods to contain Medicare spending while improving the quality of care delivered.”**

In their report, the Congressional Research Service also cited an article published in the New England Journal of Medicine from April 2009 that stated, “rates vary substantially by hospital and geographic area, even after the type of disease and the severity level of the patient’s condition are considered. Specifically, the study found higher readmission rates for some states, such as New Jersey (21.9%).”**

The data from the New England Journal of Medicine was specifically referring to instances where Medicare patients needed to be re-hospitalized for both the same condition and complications arising from that condition. In New Jersey more than 21 percent of those patients were back in the hospital within 30 days. This did not include instances where the patients had a chronic condition.**

The relationship between hospitals with a high readmission rate and the quality of care to patients is that under the Medicare reimbursement system, hospitals are actually paid per discharge. This makes it more profitable for a hospital to quickly treat and discharge a patient and have them come back than to fully take care of all issues in the initial visit, according to the Congressional Research Service report.**

“Some policy researchers and health care practitioners assert that the relatively high readmission rates for patients with chronic illness and others may be due to various factors, such as (1) an inadequate relay of information by hospital discharge planners to patients, caregivers, and post-acute care providers; (2) poor patient compliance with care instructions; (3) inadequate follow-up care from post-acute and long-term care providers; (4) variation in hospital bed supply; (5) insufficient reliance on family caregivers; (6) the deterioration of a patient’s clinical condition; and (7) medical errors.”

The release of this information is imperative to all residents in New Jersey as it gives patients needed information about a facility before they visit it. The way the new penalties work is that each facility with high readmission rates will be penalized up to one percent of their Medicare reimbursement (this penalty is set to raise to two percent in 2013). One New Jersey hospital, Cooper University Hospital in Camden, is being fined .96 percent of their Medicare reimbursement for the year because they were one of the hospitals with the highest re-hospitalization rates in the state.*

The LeapFrog Group recently conducted a study (Hospital Safety Score) of all hospitals in the country and their effectiveness with patient care and safety. Cooper University Hospital received a “C” rating, the lowest grade given out by the group (any hospitals that scored lower than a C were given a “pending” score). The hospital had high occurrences of death from serious treatable conditions following surgery, collapsed lungs due to medical treatment, and wounds splitting open following surgery which places patients at a higher risk for infection.***

The Camden County personal injury lawyers at Console & Hollawell have been protecting the rights of victims of medical error and medical malpractice for nearly two decades. If you or a loved one suffered injury as the result of the negligent actions of a medical professional, call the firm today to learn of your rights.

** http://www.ncsl.org/documents/health/Medicare_Hospital_Readmissions_and_PPACA.pdf
*** http://hospitalsafetyscore.org/hospital-details.html?location_id=1481

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