According to the Kansas Health Institute, nationwide there were at least 4 million infections and potentially avoidable injuries in hospitals during 2014. This means around 12 of every 100 hospital stays resulted in some kind of infection or preventable injury. Although there are certain things that are nearly impossible for hospitals to control, hospitals are still expected to reduce the risk of incidents and are judged yearly via injury and infection rates.

What are injury and infection rates?

The injury and infection rate of a hospital is determined by a variety of different factors, including statistics of specific patient complications in relation to medical care.

Some common examples of complications include:

  • Patient falls
  • Kidney damage due to contrast dye injections for radiologists
  • Adverse reactions to drugs
  • Bed sores
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Accidental punctures or cuts
  • Postoperative hip fractures

Hospitals are rated on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the worst possible rating. Penalizations happen when hospitals exceed the 6.75 threshold, although certain institutions are excluded including long-term care hospitals, psychiatric hospitals, children's hospitals, rehab hospitals and units, critical access hospitals and some cancer hospitals.

Injury and infection rates are not perfect, and often are more supportive of smaller hospitals that cannot provide as accurate data for all measures, relying instead on averages that can be favorable to the institution.

How do these rates affect hospitals?

Hospitals with high injury and infection rates are subject to hefty financial penalties because of an Affordable Care Act program. Essentially if a hospital is performing poorly, they will lose a certain percentage of Medicare funding which can amount to millions of dollars in some cases. After a report came out in December 2015, 23 Illinois hospitals were determined to have poor ratings, with penalties reaching around $12 million for 2016. Nationally, 758 hospitals are affected. Illinois hospitals with low scores included:

  • Little Company of Mary (9.25)
  • Richland Memorial (9)
  • OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center (9)
  • Northwestern Memorial (8.75)
  • St. Mary's Hospital (8.5)
  • Edward Hospital (8.5)
  • Carle Foundation (8.25)
  • Northwest Community (8.25)
  • Decatur Memorial (8)
  • Provident Hospital of Chicago (8)
  • Northwestern Lake Forest (7.75)
  • Mercy Hospital and Medical Center (7.75)
  • MacNeal (7.5)
  • OSF St. Francis Medical Center (7.5)
  • Franciscan St. James Health (7.5)
  • Passavant Area (7.375)
  • Louis A. Weiss Memorial (7.25)
  • Midwestern Regional (7.25)
  • St. Bernard (7.25)
  • St. Elizabeth's (7.25)
  • Mt. Sinai (7)
  • Palos Community (7)
  • Vista Medical Center East (7)

How do these rates affect patients?

Hospital patients rely on injury and infection rates to hold hospitals accountable for mistreatment and improper or risk-heavy procedures. With appropriate measures in place, patients can expect hospitals to be an environment of healing instead of further injury and infection.

Recently, progress has been made with certain procedures in response to the harsh penalties related to poor ratings. For example, the number of infections from central lines inserted into veins is down by 72 percent since 2010. Infections from urinary catheters and surgical site infections have also significantly decreased, giving patients better peace of mind for any upcoming hospital visits.

What should I do if I am injured or infected due to hospital treatment?

If you believe you have been injured or infected due to hospital treatment, your first step after getting the care you need is contacting a knowledgeable medical malpractice lawyer. The Illinois attorneys at Lipkin & Apter have over 20 years of experience with malpractice injuries and medical negligence, and can help you assess your situation and seek the financial compensation you deserve. To set up a free consultation to discuss your claim, contact us or call (312) 624-9342.