A recent AJC article set the record straight in many ways…. Nearly one in four Georgia hospitals — including several of Atlanta’s best-known medical centers — are being penalized by the federal government for high rates of patient injuries. Federal health officials reported that 31 of 134 Georgia hospitals, or 23 percent, had a high level of such complications, including infections, blood clots, bedsores and falls.
Thirteen of those have received the Medicare penalties for the past three years, including Emory University Hospital Midtown; Grady Memorial; Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta; Southern Regional Medical Center in Riverdale; WellStar Atlanta Medical Center in Atlanta; and WellStar Kennestone in Marietta.
The hospitals penalized this year will lose 1 percent of all Medicare payments for a year, beginning this past October (the start of the federal fiscal year). Hospitals have long opposed the penalties and are hoping the incoming Republican Congress will do away with them.
Not every hospital faces the Medicare penalties. Specialized hospitals, such as those that treat psychiatric patients, veterans and children, are exempt from the penalties. Also exempt are smaller hospitals with the “critical access” designation, which means each is the only provider in its area.
The 13 Georgia hospitals penalized over all three years of the program joined 228 others nationally, including some famous medical centers, such as the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio; Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles; Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago; and Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston.