New Mexico hospitals facing fines for safety concerns


ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – The federal government is fining hospitals across the country for problems with care. Some of the hospitals on that list are also some of New Mexico’s biggest hospitals.

How safe are hospitals across the United States? It’s something the federal goverment is tracking a lot more closely in the last few years.

“We help and support all the hospitals in the state to improve,” explained Anne Timmins, Quality Improvement Director for HealthInsight New Mexico.

The nonprofit is under contract with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Department of Health to keep New Mexico hospitals on the right track.

“It’s also improving transparency,” Timmins told KRQE News 13.

Still, 758 hospitals across the country will face fines in 2016 for safety concerns. Six hospitals on the list are in New Mexico, inluding the University of New Mexico Hospital, Christus St. Vincent in Santa Fe, and Presbyterian in Albuquerque.

A program under the Affordable Care Act, the government looks at things like on-site infections, complications, and customer satisfaction. “A patient getting a blood clot after surgery, a hip fracture occurring in the hospital, a bed sore occurring while the patient’s in the hospital,” Timmins said.

Hospitals across the country now keep track, and turn in that data to the federal government. HealthInsight compiles the data and helps to implement changes and programs for the hospitals to improve overall quality of care.

“We’ve been doing lots of different things to improve that and have seen those improvements, the numbers decline over time,” explained Kathy Davis, RN and Senior Vice President for Presbyterian Hospital.

“There is an additional burden to reporting, but we’re committed to that,” Davis told News 13. “Because we believe it’s important to understand our performance, and to learn best practices.”

Hospitals fined will receive one percent less from Medicare payments.

Presbyterian is the only metro hospital on the list that sat down with News 13 for an interview.

“We’re very proud, and work really hard to deliver the best highest quality care,” said Davis. “We’re happy to work with a variety of organizations that bring expertise and help us improve,” Davis added.

Presbyterian, like other big hospitals, said more risk comes with more patients cared for. “The larger hospitals tend to take the more complex patients, and they do more complex surgeries, and they have the traumas,” said Timmins.

No one from UNMH would go on camera with KRQE News 13, but a spokesperson pointed out UNMH is the only Level I Trauma Center in New Mexico. That means there’s more of a chance for complications with extremely sick patients or complex cases.

A spokesperson from UNMH sent KRQE News 13 the following statement:

“For the Hospital Acquired Condition Reduction Program, UNMH is compared to all other hospitals in the country regardless of size or the types of patients for whom they provide care.

UNMH is a tertiary care hospital, with the facilities and expertise to care for the most complicated illnesses and injuries. Other hospitals from across the state, which may lack the facilities or expertise to care for these very sick patients, regularly transfer them to UNMH, where they receive expert care in state-of-the-art facilities.

It’s important to note that many of the measures included in the Hospital Acquired Condition Reduction Program occur primarily in these extremely ill patients.

Nevertheless, UNMH is committed to significantly reducing the occurrence of these complications and has implemented a number of quality improvement programs focused on the most important areas of patient safety, including hospital-acquired conditions.”

The famed Mayo Clinic in Minnesota is also facing fines, as are Farmington, Shiprock, and Silver City hospitals. However, there are less New Mexico hospitals facing fines in 2016 than there were in 2015.

“And it should get better,” Timmins told News 13.

News 13 also reached out to Christus St. Vincent for comment. A spokesperson sent the following statement:

“At CHRISTUS St. Vincent, we have made improvements in quality of care and patient satisfaction. Our commitment is to continue looking for ways to improve the care we provide our patients.

This type of report and data helps us to further those efforts.”

30 New Mexico hospitals
Hospitals Fined in 2015: 5Hospitals Fined in 2016: 6
62 Arizona hospitals
Hospitals Fined in 2015: 7Hospitals Fined in 2016: 16
51 Colorado hospitals
Hospitals Fined in 2015: 4Hospitals Fined in 2016: 7
23 Nevada Hospitals
Hospitals Fined in 2015: 7Hospitals Fined in 2016: 13
34 Utah hospitals
Hospitals Fined in 2015: 11Hospitals Fined in 2016: 11


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