The following letter was sent to Ben Steffen, Executive Director of the Maryland Health Care Commission, by Patrick Lovett of Bel Air. A copy was provided to The Dagger for publication:
Dear Mr. Steffen,
During the past few weeks I’ve been reviewing the US governments Medicare Provider Charge data. This file http://www.cms.gov/Research-Statistics-Data-and-Systems/Statistics-Trends-and-Reports/Medicare-Provider-Charge-Data/index.html allows the public to compare charges at different hospitals. During this research, it became apparent to me that Upper Chesapeake Hospital in Harford County had an exceptionally high number of Sepsis cases which are classified as DRG #’s 870, 871 & 872 in the Medicare system. According to a number of different sources, the normal range for hospital Sepsis cases is usually in the 1% to 2% range of total overall hospital admissions. This percentage range is supported by the other MD hospitals included below. I’ve compiled a list of Sepsis cases for a large and varied group of Maryland hospitals from the Medicare website that includes the three specific DRGs related to Sepsis, 870,871 & 872. As is shown, Upper Chesapeake and Harford Memorial have almost three times the rate of Sepsis than the range at other hospitals.
I’ve been in touch with a local reporter, Cindy Mumby from The Dagger, and Cindy contacted Upper Chesapeake and received the following emailed response at the end of this note. I think this is a very serious issue that requires a transparent and independent review of the Sepsis situation at both Upper Chesapeake and Harford Memorial hospitals.
Bel Air, MD
The following response was provided by Martha Mallonee, director of corporate communications for Upper Chesapeake Health, when The Dagger requested an interview about the sepsis rates.
Hi, Cindy. Just wanted to get back to you before the end of the week regarding your inquiry regarding UCH’s sepsis rates as posted online. I don’t have enough information at this time to provide an interview on this topic. The reports are generated from a particular code being put into a patient’s chart. That code reads “possible sepsis”. We are currently undergoing an analysis (started before your inquiry) to determine if our rates reflect an actual higher incidence of sepsis or if the code ‘possible sepsis’ is not being updated in the record to reflect the final diagnosis before a patient is discharged. The definition of sepsis is not uniformly agreed upon and the coding is very much definition-dependent. We are reviewing both the documentation and coding to determine if there are any issues. We don’t believe there are quality of care issues.
We are constantly monitoring a variety of quality measures and look forward to reporting on our progress to the HSCRC and to the public through the HSCRC’s public information pages. You are welcome to check back and we will keep this on our list so that when we get updates, we can share them.
Have a nice weekend.
Martha D. Mallonee
Director, Corporate Communications, Marketing & Public Relations
Upper Chesapeake Health