Local hospital being penalized for patient safety ranking

Four Maine hospitals are being penalized by Medicare for ranking among the bottom 25 percent of U.S. hospitals in patient safety; including one right here in the County.

York Hospital, in York, Southern Maine Health Care, in Biddeford, Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston, and Cary Medical Center in Caribou are the impacted hospitals.

The action is being taken against more than 700 hospitals nationwide for their rates of hospital acquired conditions like bedsores and accidental falls.

The penalized hospitals will have their Medicare reimbursements reduced by 1 percent for the 2018 fiscal year.

Cary Medical Center says the rating is partly due to an issue they had several years ago with Clostridium Difficile, also known as C. diff, which is a bacterium that occurs often as a result of antibiotic treatment.

They say that the bacteria most commonly affects elderly patients in hospitals or long term care facilities.

The hospital says that data used by Medicare is dated and that the hospital, under the direction of Regen Gallagher, MD, and Chief Medical Officer at Cary, has been working aggressively over the past two years to improve treatment and prevent C.diff from affecting patients and the community.

‘Even though we are talking about a small number of patients we are taking this issue very seriously”, said Dr. Gallagher. “This is the first time we have been penalized and we believe we are taking the right steps to address the issue.”

Dr. Gallagher says that one specific area that has been the focus of Cary’s efforts has been an antibiotic stewardship program that reviews the use of all antibiotics.