Statement: Important hospital patient safety measure won’t be ‘suppressed’ as originally planned

Media Contacts

WASHINGTON —The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) ensured a safer future for millions of American patients late Monday with the release of its final rule on the Inpatient Prospective Payment System (IPPS). The final rule excludes a proposed provision that would have “suppressed” the calculation and publication of the CMS Patient Safety and Adverse Events Composite (Patient Safety Indicator 90), which reveals how well hospitals have prevented serious patient injury. 

The composite index is made up of ten different preventable harms which cause pain, injury and sometimes death, including falls resulting in a hip fracture, bedsores, postoperative sepsis and some serious or deadly surgical injuries. These reported patient injuries are responsible for about 24,000 deaths a year

The rejected provision was proposed after hospitals, which saw their inpatient numbers soar during the COVID-19 pandemic, pressured CMS to not publicly report Patient Safety Indicator 90. 

Because no other public source displays this important patient safety information, U.S. PIRG submitted comments urging CMS to continue reporting the metric to learn about the impact of the pandemic on patient safety at hospitals:  

 CMS has the ability to fine hospitals that fail to meet certain quality metrics, including Patient Safety Indicator 90. The final rule has determined that this measure will not be used when calculating which hospitals to penalize in this cycle. However, CMS will publicly report the composite scores on the CMS Care Compare, the government‘s hospital star-ratings tool. 

Patricia Kelmar, PIRG’s health care campaigns director, issued the following statement: 

“Our government stood on the side of patients and their families today by deciding to continue to publicly report important information about how well our hospitals have prevented patient harm during the pandemic. The protocols to prevent falls, bedsores and surgical injuries should be so baked-in, that even in the midst of a public health emergency, hospitals keep patients safe. 

“Transparency of quality-of-care measures is the key to ensuring hospitals never turn away from their first duty to do no harm. If the reported metrics show that some hospitals have cracks in their patient safety protocols, let’s learn from that now and work to do better in the days ahead.”