• Local hospitals fined for patient infections

    By: Alyana Gomez


    ST. MARYS, Ga. - Several local hospitals are being fined for reportedly infecting some of its patients who were being cared for in the intensive care unit.

    Southeast Georgia Health System’s Camden campus is one of the hospitals being penalized after two of their patients received catheter-related infections back in 2012. That’s according to a report Action News obtained from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. 
    "It's not uncommon. It's a common thing in hospitals," said neighbor Ken Smith. 
    They’re joining 28 other hospitals in the state of Georgia and more than 720 in the country. Action News scanned through the list to find other hospitals in our area.

    Ed Fraser Medical Center in Baker County was fined and so was  Memorial Hospital in Jacksonville. Last week, Action News told you about how UF Health Jacksonville was also fined for catheter infections. 

    We’ve learned that SouthEast Georgia Health System has to cough up $29,000 for infecting one more patient than the hospital predicted.
    "That's not gonna do anything. They're just gonna go right back to doing what they're doing," said former patient Larry Hudson.
    We spoke to a patient who says her friend came down with an infection under the hospital's care.
    "She went into a coma, she woke up for one day and she went back in," said Leona Hill.
    Southeast Georgia Health System released this statement:

    “Patient safety is always first and foremost in our minds. When we first saw the penalty we went back and validated the numbers. We also reviewed the criteria for catheter-associated urinary tract infection (CAUTI) since it was based on such a low number.”

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    Action News reached out to the other hospitals fined, to find out the amount of the fine and the number of patients infected.

    UF Health issued this statement:

    "UF Health is committed to providing the most comprehensive, safe and compassionate care possible to all of our patients, and therefore we do not believe the measures accurately reflect the overall service our organization provides. However, when we were made aware of these scores, we have aggressively developed protocols and timely reviews of all infections, with the goal of elimination of all cases of infections. While we understand there will be Medicare payment penalties, our focus is on providing high quality patient care.

    "One specific example is the way we have improved our protocols for catheter use. Though we have always taken care to prevent infections, we have now taken steps to insure the use of care bundles when using catheters and to educate staff not to introduce a catheter unless absolutely necessary. Physicians document the specific reason the catheter is used so each nurse and caregiver knows, and electronic reminders help save days and even hours in getting catheters out as quickly as possible. Since implementing these guidelines we have seen a significant decrease in infections. Our ultimate goal, however, is to prevent all cases of infections.

    "Safety-net hospitals like ours tend to be at a disadvantage in these studies when compared to other hospitals because of our unique patient population. Many of our patients seeking treatment do not have the same advantages as other patients when it comes to preventive care both before and after we treat them. These patients tend to grapple with more complex, severe conditions and at times treating them can be more of a challenge, one we accept as part of our mission in helping this community. It is always our goal to give them the same level of safe, high-quality, compassionate care as all others and we are proud of that commitment."

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