Doctors Hospital among 3 Riverside locations hit by Medicare fines

Prue Salasky
Contact Reporterpsalasky@dailypress.com

In a second round of fines related to the quality of certain performance measures instituted by the Affordable Care Act, three Riverside hospitals will take a 1 percent hit in Medicare reimbursements for the next fiscal year.

The across-the-board garnishment to Medicare fees will apply to Riverside Doctors' Hospital in Williamsburg, which opened in May 2013, Riverside Walter Reed Hospital in Gloucester and Riverside Tappahannock Hospital for their rate of hospital-acquired conditions and injuries.

Riverside reported that catheter-associated urinary tract infections were its greatest challenge during the reporting period that ran from January 2012 through June 2013.

"Over the past 18 months we have added an automated process for removal of catheters in our electronic medical records," said spokesman Peter Glagola. The system has seen a corresponding 80 percent decrease in such infections, he added.

The penalty for Doctors' Hospital was based on a single month of activity, a data set that Riverside officials deem invalid for an 18-month program.

Other infections and injuries counted in the measures included frequency of central line bloodstream infections, collapsed lungs, blood clots and bed sores. Any hospital scoring higher than a 7 on a 10-point scale was penalized.

Bon Secours DePaul in Norfolk also will be docked for its 2012-2013 performance regarding urinary tract infections from catheter use.

"There was a period when it was off the norm. The issue has been corrected," said spokeswoman Lynne Zultanky, noting that there's a lag of a year between the reporting and the consequences. She added that DePaul's outstanding performance on the same measure in 2014 has made it a model for other hospitals in the system. "It went from not doing very well to 'look at what DePaul did,' " she said.

Bon Secours' other hospitals in the region — Bon Secours Mary Immaculate in Newport News and Bon Secours Maryview Medical Center in Portsmouth — met the Affordable Care Act standards.

Riverside's flagship hospital Riverside Regional Medical Center in Newport News and Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital in Nassawadox also escaped penalties. All Sentara hospitals in the region also escaped unscathed, according to spokesman Dale Gauding.

The most recent fines affect 1 in 7 hospitals nationwide — more than 720 — including some of the best-known, including the Cleveland Clinic, Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

Earlier this year, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, CMS, announced fines on a sliding scale of up to 3 percent for hospitals that fail to meet increasingly tougher rules on 30-day readmission rates for certain conditions. Those fines affected three-quarters of Virginia's hospitals, including facilities in all three health systems on the Peninsula. Though most fell well below the 1 percent penalty mark, Riverside Tappahannock was hit with a 1.47 percent fine, one of the highest levies in the region.

Nationwide, Kaiser Health News estimated the latest fines for the hospital-acquired conditions would amount to $373 million nationwide. In subsequent years, CMS is set to add additional standards regarding surgical site infections; c-difficile, a feces-borne bacterium that causes colitis; and MRSA infection rates.

To check on a hospital near you, go to kaiserhealthnews.org.

Salasky can be reached by phone at 757-247-4784.

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