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Hospitals’ med error expansion later pared

– Two years ago, over objections from the hospital industry, the United States announced it would add data about “potentially life-threatening” mistakes made in hospitals to a website people can search to check on safety performance.

Now the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services plans to remove the eight hospital-acquired conditions, which include infections and mismatched blood transfusions, while it comes up with a different set.

The agency said it’s doing so because some of the eight are redundant and because an advisory panel created by the 2010 Affordable Care Act recommended regulators use other gauges.

But that decision is reneging on a commitment to transparency, according to organizations representing employers that help pay for health insurance.

“What they’re saying basically is hospital claims of unfairness have more weight than consumers’ right to know,” said Leah Binder, president of the Washington-based Leapfrog Group, whose members include General Motors and Verizon Communications.

The initial proposal CMS has made for new safety-assessment data suggests the Hospital Compare website will be less comprehensive, Binder said.

Patrick Conway, CMS’ chief medical officer and top quality-control official, declined to be interviewed.

The hospital industry argued against adding the statistics to Hospital Compare from the beginning, contending the data, culled from Medicare billing records, aren’t precise enough and can paint inaccurate pictures.

“The only thing we have insisted upon is that the measures be accurate and fair, that they represent a real picture of what’s going on in an individual hospital if you’re going to put it up on a public website,” said Nancy Foster, vice president for quality and patient safety policy at the American Hospital Association.

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