West Michigan hospitals penalized for infections, conditions

Posted at 4:27 PM, Dec 11, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-11 16:27:21-05

NOVI, Mich. - 24 Michigan hospitals, including several in West Michigan, are being penalized in 2016 for ranking in the bottom quarter for hospital acquired conditions or infections.

"We find out that nationally we're paying too much in mistakes and errors that hospitals' medical providers are giving patients, and those errors not only hurt the patient, but they are costly so we want to make sure the hospital is accountable for their actions," said Bret Jackson, President of Economic Alliance for Michigan.

The list was released Friday afternoon by the Economic Alliance for Michigan (EAM). The Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services released the data on Thursday.  According to the EAM, the lowest ranking one-quarter of hospitals in the country are penalized by having their Medicare payments reduced by 1% next year. The penalty is part of the Affordable Care Act.

"I think hospitals are going to get the messages loud and clear that they need to be more serious about these issues," said Jackson.

The West Michigan hospitals being penalized are:

  • Borgess Medical Center - Kalamazoo
  • Mercy Health St. Mary's - Grand Rapids
  • North Ottawa Community Health Center - Grand Haven
  • Spectrum Health - Big Rapids
  • Spectrum Health Butterworth - Grand Rapids
  • Three Rivers Hospital - Three Rivers

Hospital acquired conditions included ulcers, bloodstream infections, surgical site infections and urinary-tract infections.

This list doesn't mean go running for the hills and switch hospitals. This is just another checks and balances system for healthcare. You can see where hospitals' shortfalls are at Each hospital has an overall score. If it has an A or B score that means it's still a great hospital, but they might have some shortfalls in certain areas. For example, St. Mary's in Grand Rapids has an A rating, but has shortfalls in hand washing, patient falls, and dangerous bed sores. Spectrum Health Butterworth has a "B" rating, but needs to improve in collapsed lungs, and accidental cuts and tears. Borgess Hospital has a "C" rating, with shortfalls in death from treatable serious complications, dangerous object left in patients' body, and preventing blood clots.

"We grade hospitals and if the hospital is an "A" OR "B", and they happen to be doing bad in one or two areas then that's probably a pretty good hospital to go to. If they are a "C" or "D" or "F" that's probably a hospital they should avoid," said Jackson.

We reached out to all three hospitals for comment. Spectrum Health gave us this statement:

 "Spectrum Health takes infection control very seriously. It is our goal to avoid every possible infection. Preventing Hospital Acquired Conditions (HACs) is the focus of intensive and ongoing process improvement efforts throughout our system. With focus, diligence, and the hard work of our team, Spectrum Health has reduced the reported catheter associated infections to below the national average. We consider this a significant accomplishment, especially considering the complexity of the patients we serve."

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