News Local/State

Carle Hospital’s Patient Infection Rate Improved, But Still Penalized By Medicare


Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana is paying a penalty to Medicare for the 2nd year in a row, due to a high rate of patient infections and complications.

As first reported earlier Monday in the News-Gazette, Carle Hospital scored 8.25 for the level of infections and other problems that its patients had while hospitalized from mid-2012 through 2014. The rating is on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the worst. It's  better than the hospital’s previous score of 8.65, but because it falls above 6.75, Carle is still being penalized. The hospital is losing 1% of its Medicare payments for a one year period that began October 1st.

Carle’s Chief Medical Quality Officer, Dr. Robert Healey, says they’re making improvements to reduce infections. For instance, he says the hospital is more closely monitoring its use of central lines or catheters with patients, because they provide a potential path for infection. He says catheters are tagged so that hospital staff will know when to change them. And he says more attention is paid to whether a catheter is needed, or can be removed.

Despite the improvements, Healey says it will be a challenge for Carle Hospital to avoid a penalty next year, because Medicare essentially grades on the curve --- charging penalties for the 25% of hospitals with the worst scores.

“We continue to get better,” said Healey. “Other hospitals get better as well. So it’s hard to know where we’ll land this year. But we do know that we’re getting patients a better chance of not getting these types of infections now, compared to the past. “

Among other area hospitals, Decatur Memorial Hospital scored an 8.0 for patient infections and complications, putting it in the penalty range as well.

But other area hospitals in Decatur, Urbana, Mattoon, Danville and Watseka avoided a Medicare penalty for this year.

Healey says Carle is prone to having a higher rate of in-hospital patient infections and complications than some other hospitals, because of its status as a Level One Trauma Center that takes in serious cases referred to it by other hospitals.

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Here’s how area hospitals were rated by Medicare in the Hospital Acquired Condition Reduction Program:

Carle Foundation Hospital, Urbana  8.25

Presence Covenant Medical Center, Urbana  5.75

Presence (listed as Provena) United Samaritans Medical Center Danville 1.75

Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center, Mattoon 6.0

St. Mary’s Hospital, Decatur 2.75

Decatur Memorial Hospital, Decatur  8.0

OSF St. James/John W. Albrecht Medical Center, Pontiac  2.40

Iroquois Memorial Hospital, Watseka 5.0