Dr. Jennifer Meddings, an assistant professor in the Department of Internal Medicine, Division of General Medicine at the University of Michigan’s Medical School, published the results of an investigation of the accuracy of Medicare's Hospital Compare website in reporting the rate of hospital-acquired bedsores in the Oct. 14, 2013, issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.
Dr. Meddings found that the Medicare Hospital Compare website does not accurately reflect the real incidence of hospital-acquired bedsores in any hospital. The Medicare evaluation system is based on the appearance of billing data that reflects treatment for bedsores.
The Medicare Hospital Compare system does not examine or consider the evaluation of hospital-acquired bedsores by nurses or other professional in a direct skin examination that is recorded in a given patient’s hospitalization record.
The difference in the Medicare posted hospital-acquired bedsore rate is 10 times higher than professional examination rates. A high occurrence of bedsores would indicate that a patient that is incapable of moving themselves has received insufficient attention and assistance from hospital staff.
The Medicare Hospital Compare ratings can cause hospitals to be rated at a lower level and include financial penalties to the hospital based on inaccurate information.
"Our findings provide a strong case for removing hospital rates for pressure ulcers from the Medicare's Hospital Compare website in order to prevent comparisons that may be misleading to patients and policymakers," Meddings says.
One might go further on the basis of this analysis and recommend the entire Medicare Hospital Compare system be examined for similar flaws because the entire system functions on billing information only and not on the entire reality.
The research also indicates that there may be a policy in many hospitals of reporting bedsores that do not exist and billing Medicare for the treatment.