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Berwick Sees Surge in Hospitals Joining Patient Safety Partnership

By John Reichard, CQ HealthBeat Editor

May 5, 2011 -- The number of hospitals that have agreed to join a patient safety partnership announced several weeks ago by Medicare officials has grown to more than 1,200 now, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Donald M. Berwick said.

That's up from 500 hospitals when the program was first announced.

An aide to Berwick said the agency hopes to have 2,500 hospitals on board sometime this summer because of the strong level of interest shown in the program. Berwick spoke at a event sponsored by the Institute of Medicine.

In remarks to reporters after his appearance, Berwick also defended the recently issued rule varying payment levels to hospitals based on the quality of their care. Hospitals have complained that the rule gives insufficient weight to their comments and pays too much attention to imperfect measures of patient satisfaction with care. Berwick said the payment system is "a work in progress" but the rule was carefully considered, and he defended the weight given to measures of patient satisfaction.

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