Medicare Ranks Best and Worst Hospitals for Hip/Knee Surgeries

The federal healthcare agency recently identified 97 of the best, and 95 of the worst, hospitals in the United States to receive knee or hip replacement surgeries. Yesterday, we reported on the overwhelming death rates from medical errors in hospitals and the need to improve transparency and quality. Our knee and hip replacement attorneysare happy to see the government taking steps in the right direction.

Medicare has traditionally only tracked hospital death rates, patient ratings, and medical guideline adherence, however, the specific analysis of hip and knee replacements is recent. The hospitals with the most problems consistently reported patients experiencing high complication rates, readmissions, and significant setbacks. The best-ranking hospitals allowed patients smoother recoveries and avoided readmissions.

Surgeries included in the analysis took place nationwide between July 2009 and June 2012, according to Kaiser Health News. Among its stipulations, Medicare examined how often patients suffered blood clots, mechanical complications, readmission within 30 days, eight potential complications, and death rates.

About one million people, mostly elderly, receive hip and knee replacements every year. Since Medicare and Medicaid insure a large number of elderly Americans, this analysis is in the best interest of not only patients but the agencies as well. Indeed, Medicare plans to add hip and knee readmission rates to the criteria list for its annual general hospital evaluations.

Some hospitals are implementing new programs to help patients recover and avoid complications, among which include pre-surgery education. In these types of programs patients receive extensive information on how to best take care of themselves after they return home from surgery to prevent readmission. This could include warnings signs of problems, how to best arrange your home, and what family members should expect. A comprehensive list of the best and worst hospitals can be found here.

Quality Doctors need Quality Medical Devices

It should be noted that, in some cases, the poor quality of hip replacement surgeries may not always be the physician or hospital. It may very well have to do with the defective nature of the hip implant itself. For example, the FDA recently decided that the risks of metal-on-metal hip implants far outweigh the benefits.

These types of all-metal hip devices, which are manufactured by six different companies (Biomet, DePuy, Smith & Nephew, Stryker, Wright, and Zimmer), are causing extensive and serious injuries in patients throughout the country. Traditional hip implants are made of ceramic and plastic, with some metal components. These new all-metal hips were touted to last longer in patients and provide more durable support, however, the exact opposite is proving true.

Since they are made entirely of metal, chromium and cobalt ions are easily released into the bloodstream through daily wear, causing, in some patients, metal toxicity and muscle, tissue and bone death. More common is early failure – with extremely high percentages of patients needing revision surgeries within five years of implantation. Female patients and those implanted with larger metal heads fail most frequently.

The majority of metal-on-metal hip systems have been pulled off market or recalled, however, patients are just now beginning to file lawsuits against the manufacturers to obtain compensation for their mounting medical bills. Our team of metal-on-metal hip implant attorneys are currently reviewing and investigating these types of cases nationwide. If you have any questions related to all-metal hip implant lawsuits, contact our firm today for a free legal consultation.


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