Premium Article Law's Penalties Spur Dallas-Area Hospitals To Improve Care

Sherry Jacobson | Dallas Morning News | June 11, 2013

Patients suffering from congestive heart failure typically show up in the emergency room struggling to breathe, with their legs and feet swollen from fluid retention and, sometimes, unable to eat or even lie down.

A million times a year, these patients are admitted to U.S. hospitals, stabilized and sent home. But it doesn’t last long. Almost a quarter of heart failure patients on Medicare are readmitted within 30 days, as sick as ever.

But that’s about to change.

Last October, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services began fining more than 2,000 hospitals for excessive patient readmissions in three diagnostic categories: heart failure, pneumonia and heart attack.