CMS says it will not fix inaccurate wait times on Hospital Compare

Hospital officials say coding errors made data inaccurate

Some hospitals say that coding errors have led to inaccurate ED wait time data posted on CMS's Hospital Compare website—but the agency has refused to make any changes or annotations.

In the first round of ED reports, U.S. hospitals voluntarily provided their wait times for seven measures of ED care from Jan. 1, 2012, to March 31, 2012. Eventually, hospitals will likely be required to report their wait time data.

However, the posted data suggest that some hospitals have ED wait times that are longer than one day, which leaders call wildly incorrect due to coding errors.

"These numbers are not right. There's no way those are right," says John Lampert, CEO of Sayre Memorial Hospital in Oklahoma. Sayre spokesperson Rachel Wright adds, "We're accountable for the data, we're just saying it's being reported or coded differently; something is not transferring accurately."

Meanwhile, the Georgia Hospital Association (GHA) requested that CMS change or annotate the data after the organization realized it had incorrectly entered administrative claims data, leading to the higher wait times. "We made the mistake at our level, at the Georgia Hospital Association," says Kevin Bloye, the organization's vice president of public relations.

Mark Lowe, assistant vice president for marketing and public relations at John D. Archbold Memorial Hospital in Thomasville, Ga., says the hospital "sent a formal request to CMS to have this not show up for the first quarter, but they were not able to do that ... They refused to even annotate the data."

A CMS spokesperson said the agency gave all hospitals an opportunity to review the data and make corrections by a deadline (Clark, Health Leaders Media, 3/7).


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