Kaiser Health News—December 17, 2013
Medicare has begun tracking the outcomes of hip and knee replacement surgeries, identifying 95 hospitals where elderly patients were more likely to suffer significant setbacks. The government also named 97 hospitals where patients tended to have the smoothest recoveries.
The analysis, which was released last week, is the latest part of the government’s push to improve quality at the nation’s hospitals instead of simply paying Medicare patients’ bills. Medicare already assesses hospital death rates, how consistently hospitals follow basic medical guidelines and how patients rate their stays.
The evaluation of hip and knee surgery outcomes is significant because for the first time, Medicare is rating hospitals’ performance on two common elective procedures.Many patients needing joint replacements want to know a hospital’s record when choosing where to have the procedure done. This is not usually the case for treatment of conditions Medicare has evaluated previously, such as heart attacks.
Of the 95 hospitals where knee and hip surgery patients experienced difficulties after the operation, nine were rated having both high readmissions and high complication rates.