Fort Wayne’s Lutheran Hospital, Orthopaedic Hospital both penalized by Medicare for high rates of patient injury

Lutheran Health is challenging city claims of savings through an exclusive deal with Parkview (News-Sentinel.com file photo)

Lutheran Hospital and The Orthopaedic Hospital of Lutheran Health Network (LHN), both of which are located in Fort Wayne, will be penalized by Medicare for the coming fiscal year because of a high rate of patient injuries.

The hospitals will lose 1 percent of Medicare payments over the federal fiscal year, which runs from October through September, Kaiser Health News reported in late December. The Fort Wayne hospitals are among 751 hospitals nationwide that Medicare is penalizing for having the highest rates of patient injuries, the report said.

Lutheran Hospital and The Orthopaedic Hospital of LHN were the only Fort Wayne hospitals penalized, the report said. Lutheran Hospital also was penalized last year.

In northeast Indiana, Goshen General Hospital in Goshen was the only other hospital that was penalized, the report said.

“Our physicians, nurses and other clinicians actively work to continually improve care, and measurement helps identify progress and opportunities to further improve,” Alice Robinson, LHN vice president of planning and marketing, said in a reply to questions emailed by News-Sentinel.com. “LHN is committed to providing safe, quality care for every patient.

“Over the last several months, LHN and hospital leaders have reviewed more broadly detailed quality data with our physicians, employees and board members to create a more transparent culture around quality and safety and engage them in quality-improvement initiatives,” Robinson said.

“At Lutheran Hospital, we have seen improvements in all categories within this report,” she said. “As it was last year, the one category in which we have seen improvement but need to continue to focus on is clostridium difficile (C. diff). Many of the C. diff cases we see at Lutheran are community acquired, which makes improvement all the more challenging.”

C. diff is a bacterium that, if it infects a patient, can cause symptoms ranging from diarrhea to life-threatening inflammation of the colon, the Mayo Clinic reports on its website, www.mayoclinic.org.

Robinson said Lutheran Hospital is a tertiary-care facility, which means it treats more clinically complex patients who tend to be sicker when they arrive at the hospital.

As a network, Robinson said LHN has been working to reduce infections and improve safety by:

• Conducting daily review and analysis of patient care to reduce complications.

• Using evidence-based checklists to monitor control of infections and complications and adherence to best practices.

• Participating in state and national programs that help hospitals strengthen infection-control efforts and establish best practices

• Creating a multidisciplinary team that focuses on reducing readmissions by making preparations for a patient’s discharge and placing weekly follow-up calls to patients with chronic disease.

The Orthopedic Hospital of LHN performed above the national average in 10 categories of this report, including the prevention of pressure ulcers and in-hospital falls, but also had a problem with C. diff, Robinson said.

“Given the Ortho Hospital’s focus on one service line, and therefore the lower patient volume compared to a full-service, acute-care hospital, one incidence can make a difference when it comes to its performance within reports like this,” she said.

Robinson’s reply to News-Sentinel.com didn’t respond to questions about how much Medicare revenue LHN may lose because of the Medicare penalties or whether that revenue loss will have any impact on the hospitals’ services, programs or patient care.

LHN has been wrestling with a number of issues in the past year.

Frustration by doctors over parent company Community Health Systems’ reported lack of investment in the local hospital network led to an unsuccessful effort by a group of physicians to buy LHN. That effort was followed by CHS firing or accepting the resignations of several key medical and administrative leaders.

Several gastrointestinal doctors recently reportedly left LHN in a contract dispute, but some reportedly have returned.

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