Jun 7, 2022 - Health

Biden administration seeks to suppress hospital safety data

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) logo is seen displayed on a smartphone and on the background of its website

Photo illustration: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Consumer groups are pushing back against a Biden administration proposal that would block public access to key hospital safety data such as infection rates, falls and incidence of bed sores.

Driving the news: Medicare is accepting comments from the public through June 17 on the rule, saying it is proposing the data suppression "due to the impact of the COVID-19 [public health emergency.]"

  • "An important part of [the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services'] commitment to patient safety is ensuring public access to the highest quality data regarding the performance of health care facilities: We want the public to have complete trust in the data and will only be providing data we have determined has a high confidence of credibility and accuracy," Lee Fleisher, director of CMS' Center for Clinical Standards and Quality, said in a statement.

What they're saying: "The public has a right to know what happened during the pandemic. We have a right to know when lives are at risk and which hospitals did the best job of protecting their patients," said Leah Binder, CEO of the Leapfrog Group, an organization that grades hospital care.

Between the lines: A number of studies have shown an increase during the pandemic in preventable hospital-acquired infections, including central line infections.

  • "There's no question hospitals have been under unprecedented pressure and it's clear to us they've responded to the pressure the best they could. But in some cases, that's been harmful to patients," Binder said.
  • "We have to face up to the consequences of this pandemic in all of their nuances."
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