Are Connecticut's Hospitals Sick?

Nationally, only three states, including CT, do not have at least one hospital that is deemed to be leading the way nationally in using evidence-based care processes closely linked to positive patient outcomes.


The Joint Commission, which accredits and certifies more than 19,000 health care organizations and programs in the U.S. just released its annual report rating the performance of more than 3,300 accredited hospitals on a wide variety of accountability guidelines linked to positive patient outcomes. This newly released report lists 620 hospitals, in 47 states, that it says are “leading the way nationally in using evidence-based care processes closely linked to positive patient outcomes.” There are only three states that do not have at least one hospital on the list which include North Dakota, South Dakota and Connecticut.

By way of comparison to our New England neighbors: Massachusetts had 10;  Maine and New Hampshire had 4 each; Vermont had 3; and Rhode Island had one that were designated as top performers. The number of hospitals recognized this year by the Joint Commission increased more than 50 percent from last year’s first ever list.  In 2011, only one CT hospital made the list which was Griffin Hospital in Derby.

The breakdown of the 620 hospitals named as ‘Top Performers on Key Quality Measures,” includes the following statistics:

5% of those listed were major teaching hospitals;

26% of those listed are rural hospitals;

45% are non-profit hospitals; and

49% have between 100 and 300 beds.

 The  Joint Commission’s report was released approximately one month after it was reported that twenty-three of Connecticut’s thirty-one hospitals prepare to forfeit Medicare funds, starting this month, under a new federal law that penalizes hospitals with significant numbers of patients who are readmitted within a month of discharge. The re-admittance rates are based on the percent of heart attack, heart failure and pneumonia patients who return to the hospital for any reason within 30 days.  

Only eight of CT’s thirty-one hospitals face no penalties which are: Hartford Hospital; Middlesex Hospital; Backus Hospital; The Hebrew Home and Hospital in West Hartford; Manchester Memorial Hospital; Rockville General Hospital; Sharon Hospital; and Windham Community Memorial Hospital.

The newly enacted health reform legislation allows Centers from Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to withhold a portion of Medicare payments to hospitals that have excessive readmissions, starting with up to 1 percent in fiscal year 2013 and rising to 3 percent in 2015— these penalties could end up costing some hospitals millions of dollars.

Nationally, about 20 percent of hospitalized Medicare patients return to the hospital within 30 days, at an estimated cost of $17 billion a year, according to the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission.

Michele Sharp, spokeswoman for the Connecticut Hospital Association, said Connecticut’s acute-care hospitals are all “improving the quality of care they provide. Additionally, this report shows just one part of the hospital quality picture and may not be relevant for some patients.”

Should these findings be a cause of concern for those needing hospital care in CT? What do you think?

Richard P. Hastings is a Connecticut personal injury lawyer at Hastings, Cohan & Walsh, LLP, with offices throughout the state. A graduate of Fordham Law School, he has been named a New England Super Lawyer and is the author of the books: "The Crash Course on Child Injury Claims"; "The Crash Course on Personal Injury Claims in Connecticut" and "The Crash Course on Motorcycle Accidents." He has also co-authored the best selling book "Wolf in Sheep's Clothing- What Your Insurance Company Doesn't Want You to Know and Won't Tell You Until It's Too Late!" He can be reached at 1(888)CTLAW-00 or by visiting www.hcwlaw.com.


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