UPDATE: Area hospitals likely won't face federal penalties - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

UPDATE: Area hospitals likely won't face federal penalties

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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) -  A federal report has listed nearly 800 hospitals nationwide that will be assessed. The assessment will focus on rates of infection in patients with catheters, as well as a number of other areas such as blood clots and accidental falls.

A number of Wisconsin hospitals, including Gundersen Health System and Mayo Clinic Health System in La Crosse are on that list.

Jordan Rau, Staff Writer at Kaiser Health News, has extensively researched the federal report, he said "It's certainly going to capture the attention of the hospital boards...CEO...that's what Congress intended in the Affordable Care Act."

The report is a part of the government's effort to improve patient safety.  A preliminary report by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services scored hospitals from one to 10, the higher the number, the greater rate of infections or falls.

The hospitals ranking in the highest 25% will be penalized by the government. Starting in October, they would lose 1% of every Medicare payment for a year.  "What the government is trying to do is change the system to build in an incentive for places to focus on quality," said Rau.

Locally, Mayo Clinic Health System ranked at a 2.05, Gundersen Health System at a 4.025.

Representatives from both hospitals said they will most likely not be penalized, and said a financial penalty isn't a good incentive to increase patient safety.

Marilu Bintz, the Medical Vice President for Patient Quality & Safety at Gundersen Health System said, "If you're in an inner city hospital where you're really on a tight margin, it can be tempting to say 'well if we're going to get penalized then we'll just stop taking care of them'."

Kristen Dall-Winther, Family Physician and Patient Safety Officer at Mayo Clinic Health System, said "It's not ideal in that it doesn't reward improvement...it's a black and white thing, so all the hospitals could be high performers but the bottom will get penalized."

But both Bintz and Dall-Winther said the governments overall goal of improving patient safety is a good thing, and both hospitals will continue to keep patient safety at the forefront of their goals.

Final ratings from the federal report won't come out till later this year, and then hospitals will know who exactly is getting penalized.  

Winona Health Services is also on the list of hospitals that rank high in those defined patient complications.  The hospital received a score of 5.04.

News19 reached out to Winona Health Services Thursday for a comment and they said they have not been able to see the list yet, and did not want to comment until they are able to see the list for themselves.


LA CROSSE, Wis.  (WXOW/AP) - Both hospitals in La Crosse and the one in Winona appear on a list of medical facilities that could face federal penalties based on rates of complications and infections with patients.

Gundersen Health System, Mayo Clinic Health System-Franciscan Medical Center, and Winona Health Services are three of 761 hospitals nationwide on a preliminary list compiled by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The study comes from healthcare reform legislation passed by Congress.

Other hospitals on the list include ones in virtually every part of the Wisconsin and Minnesota including Appleton, Milwaukee, Madison, Minneapolis, Rhinelander and Rochester.

The report gives scores to each facility on a 1 to 10 scale. Those with numbers on the upper end of the scale are more likely to be penalized.

In a report done by Kaiser Health News, Mile Bluff Medical Center in Mauston was given a score of 9 in the study.  Of the 761 hospitals on the list, the top 175 facilities are likely to be penalized.  Mile Bluff is on that list.   

Scores for area facilities include: Winona Health Services-5.4, Gundersen Health System-4.025, MCHS-Franciscan Medical Center-2.05.

A Gundersen Health System spokesperson says that based on the hospital's rating, they believe they won't be penalized by the government. 

Some of the hospitals on the list could avoid penalties after the agency does more analysis.

Those that still have poor scores by October will lose 1 percent of their Medicare payments from October through September 2015.

Both Gundersen Health System and Mayo Clinic Health System will talk to News 19 on Thursday about their analysis of the report.  

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