Six dialysis facilities in Connecticut received low quality-of-care scores under newly updated federal Medicare ratings, while 11 facilities received the highest rating possible.
Connecticut has 45 dialysis facilities in the Medicare program, all but four of them for-profit. Of the 41 for-profit centers, the majority are owned by two chains – DaVita, which has 24, and Fresenius Medical Care, with 13.
The federal Medicare program rates dialysis facilities on a scale of one to five stars, based on nine measures of quality of care. The measures include mortality and hospitalization rates of patients, as well as rates of hypercalcemia, catheterization of more than 90 days, and the percentage of dialysis patients who had enough wastes removed from their blood during dialysis.
Connecticut has one facility that received one star, the lowest rating – Fresenius Medical Care of Fairfield. Five other centers received two stars: Dialysis Center of Newington, East Hartford Dialysis Center, FMC of Western Hartford, New Britain General Hospital and UConn Dialysis Center. The UConn center, owned by a national chain called Dialysis Clinic, Inc., ranked low on several indicators, but improved since the last ratings to show an “as expected,” or average, patient death rate.
Statewide, Connecticut fares the same or better on all of the quality measures compared to national averages.
The star ratings are intended to help patients make decisions about where to go for dialysis, but some advocacy groups have criticized the system because facilities are ranked on a bell curve, which forces some centers into the lowest one- or two-star category when they might provide good care. Facilities with the top 10 percent final scores are given a star rating of five, while those in the bottom 10 percent get a rating of one star.
Connecticut’s five-star facilities are: Black Rock Dialysis, Branford Dialysis, Danbury Dialysis Center, DaVita Waterbury Heights Dialysis, Fresenius Medical Care of Southington, Middlesex Dialysis Center, Milford Dialysis, New London Dialysis, Shelton Dialysis, Stamford Dialysis and Torrington Dialysis. All but one are owned by DaVita.
C-HIT provides a searchable database of the Medicare dialysis ratings here.