A hospital’s penalty status in the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ Hospital-Acquired Conditions Reduction Program is heavily influenced by chance, according to a new study by KNG Health Consulting and AHA reported in the Journal of Healthcare Quality. Only 40.6% of the 768 hospitals penalized by the program last year had scores that were statistically different from the threshold penalty score, the study found. “In other words, the majority of hospitals receiving a HAC penalty have performance indistinguishable from those that are not being penalized,” writes Nancy Foster, AHA vice president for quality and patient safety policy, in an AHA Stat blog post. She says the study “adds to the mounting evidence that the HAC program is the wrong approach to encouraging hospitals to improve quality and safety.”

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