Getting to the hospital quickly after suffering a stroke improves your chances of survival, but in Connecticut there are areas where access to the top level of stroke care is limited, health experts say. Two hospitals, Yale New Haven Hospital’s main campus and Hartford Hospital, are nationally certified as Comprehensive Stroke Care Centers, providing the highest level of stroke care available, which includes 24-hour access to neurological practitioners and the ability to perform complex endovascular therapies, including thrombectomies and endovascular coiling of an aneurysm, among other surgeries. Yale and Hartford hospitals are two of only 178 certified nationally as comprehensive stroke centers, according to The Joint Commission, which certifies hospitals. But when time is critical, traveling to New Haven or Hartford can be a risky commute from the northwestern and northeastern parts and other parts of the state, where hospitals certified in stroke care are sparse. In all, the state has 23 hospitals that are certified in some level of stroke care, up from 16 in 2013.
In Connecticut nine hospitals, including Yale New Haven Hospital, Greenwich Hospital, Lawrence + Memorial Hospital and Sharon Hospital, received an overall 4-star rating, new data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) show. But six hospitals – Bridgeport Hospital, Griffin Hospital, St. Vincent’s Hospital in Bridgeport, Manchester Memorial Hospital, Waterbury Hospital and Charlotte Hungerford Hospital – received the lowest overall rating of 1 star. The overall ratings summarize a variety of care measures that hospitals treat patients for, such as heart attacks, pneumonia and infections, and show how well each hospital performs on average compared to other hospitals in the country, according to CMS’ website. None of the state’s 28 hospitals received CMS’ highest rating of 5 stars.
Fifteen Connecticut hospitals will lose 1 percent of their Medicare reimbursements this fiscal year as penalties for having relatively high rates of hospital-acquired conditions, data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) show. The hospitals are among 800 nationwide being penalized – the highest number since the federal Hospital Acquired Conditions Reduction Program started five years ago, according to a Kaiser Health News (KHN) analysis of the CMS data. The penalties will be levied during the current fiscal year, which began in October 2018 and runs through September. Under the program, which was created by the Affordable Care Act, the government levies penalties based on hospitals’ rates of infection related to colon surgeries, hysterectomies, urinary tract catheters and central lines inserted into veins. It also reviews infection rates for Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, and Clostridium difficile, known as C. diff, as well as rates of blood clots, sepsis, post-surgery wounds, bedsores and hip fractures, among other injuries.
Most Connecticut hospitals will lose a portion of their Medicare reimbursement payments over the next year as penalties for having high rates of patients being readmitted, new data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) show. Statewide, 27 of the 29 hospitals evaluated—or 93 percent—will be penalized in the 2019 fiscal year that began Oct. 1, according to a Kaiser Health News analysis of CMS data. The Medicare program has penalized hospitals since the 2013 fiscal year for having high rates of patients who are readmitted within a month of being discharged. Nationally, hospitals will lose $566 million in penalties, which were instituted as part of the Affordable Care Act to encourage better health care delivery.
Various violations that jeopardized patient safety, including two that preceded patient deaths and several involving the improper use of restraints, have taken place at Connecticut hospitals, according to the most recent hospital inspection reports released by the state Department of Public Health (DPH). The reports, which can be found in C-HIT’s Data Mine section, cover inspections that took place at hospitals between 2016 and this year. Some of the violations resulted in injuries to patients, while others showed lapses in protocols and procedures. Bridgeport Hospital was cited for 26 violations, including an incident in which a patient with a diagnosis of an ovarian mass suffered a burn during surgery. Hartford Hospital was cited for 60 violations, including two violations that preceded patient deaths.
Connecticut consumers were billed for more than $1 billion in facility fees for outpatient services in 2015 and 2016, documents filed with the state Office of Health Care Access (OHCA) show. Twenty-two of Connecticut’s 30 hospitals charged these fees, bringing in $600.7 million in 2015 and another $488.8 million in 2016, according to an analysis by Conn. Health I-Team. The state’s two largest hospital systems, Yale New Haven Health and Hartford HealthCare, accounted for almost half of the total facility fee revenue in 2016. Yale and its four hospitals billed $144.3 million; Hartford and its five hospitals, $80.9 million.
The state Medical Examining Board disciplined three doctors this week, including reprimanding a Waterbury obstetrician for failing to perform a timely Caesarean section in a case in which the infant died. Dr. John Kaczmarek also failed to assess the infant’s category III fetal heart monitors results on Aug. 10, 2014 at Waterbury Hospital, a consent order he signed with the board states. Category III results are considered abnormal and may indicate that the fetus is at risk of being deprived of oxygen. Kaczmarek also did not appropriately document his evaluation of the monitor results or his plan of care, the order said. The consent order does not detail what happened to the baby, but Christopher Stan, a spokesman for the state Department of Public Health (DPH), said Thursday that despite resuscitation efforts and a transfer to Yale New Haven Hospital, the baby died a day after delivery.
About half of Connecticut hospitals—15 out of 31—will lose part of their Medicare payments in 2018 as a penalty for having relatively high rates of patients who acquired preventable injuries and infections while hospitalized. The hospitals are among 751 nationwide that will lose 1 percent of their Medicare reimbursements in this fiscal year. The penalties are part of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) Hospital-Acquired Condition Reduction Program, which is part of the Affordable Care Act. The program penalizes hospitals with the highest rates of patients who got infections from hysterectomies, colon surgeries, urinary tract catheters and central line tubes. It also tallies those who suffered from blood clots, bed sores or falls while hospitalized.
Ten Connecticut prescribers, including a Derby nurse who is at the center of a federal kickback probe, were responsible for more than 23 percent of the state’s Medicare spending on opioids in 2014, suggesting that the largest share of those prescriptions is concentrated among a small number of clinicians. Recently released federal Medicare data show that Heather Alfonso, formerly a nurse with the Comprehensive Pain & Headache Treatment Centers, LLC, in Derby, and four other advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) at the clinic in 2014 dispensed more than $8.4 million in opioids in the Medicare program – accounting for a full 15 percent of all such prescriptions in the state. They were among the top 10 opioid prescribers in 2014, who accounted for $13 million of the $56 million spent on the drugs, the data show. More than 4,800 Connecticut clinicians, mostly physicians, wrote Medicare prescriptions for oxycodone, fentanyl and other opioids. But the prescribing was not evenly spread out – only two-dozen prescribers wrote out more than $250,000 worth of prescriptions.
The rates of asthma-related emergency room visits and hospitalizations dropped in many Connecticut communities, the latest data from the state Department of Public Health show. Overall, 58 percent of communities saw a decrease in the age-adjusted rate of emergency room visits, while 63 percent saw a decrease in the rate of hospitalizations for asthma, according to a C-HIT analysis of the data. Some 36 percent saw improvement in both areas. The data compares age-adjusted rates for each town for 2005-2009 and for 2010-2014 per 10,000 people. Meanwhile, the state’s overall rate for emergency room visits in 2014 was lower than recent years but still was higher than it was 10 years ago.