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Study boosts Medicare quality measures

FORT WORTH, Texas -- If U.S. hospitals more widely adopted some of the federal Medicare program's pay-for-performance goals, they could prevent almost 5,700 deaths and save as much as $1.35 billion a year, according to a study released Thursday.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is in the midst of a three-year demonstration project that rewards participating hospitals for meeting 33 quality measures -- such as giving antibiotics to pneumonia patients and offering aspirin to heart attack sufferers.

With about 260 hospitals enrolled, the venture saved about 235 lives in one year, according to the analysis by Premier Inc., an alliance of nonprofit hospitals responsible for collecting data for the Medicare experiment.

By Premier's estimate, hospitals nationwide would see dramatic results if their workers gave at least most of the recommended treatments to patients for pneumonia, heart bypass, heart attack, and hip and knee replacements. The projected outcome: 5,700 fewer deaths, 8,100 fewer complications, 10,000 fewer readmissions and 750,000 fewer days in the hospital.

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