- Flu vaccination rates were slightly higher through mid-November compared with the same time last year but still well below federal officials' goal of getting 70% of Americans vaccinated. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that about 40% of Americans ages 6 months and older have gotten vaccinated this season, about three percentage points higher than for the same time in 2012. Infections, meanwhile, were not on pace with last year's, when an early start to the flu season resulted in 381,000 hospitalizations and 169 pediatric deaths. But “we really don't know what this flu season is going to be like,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the CDC's Center for Global Health.
- The CMS updated its Hospital Compare website, adding new performance measures and refreshing data for existing ones. The agency added a set of measures gauging timely and effective care for stroke patients. The updated site also includes a measure of hospitals' rate of early elective deliveries. And under the “Readmissions, Complications and Deaths” tab, the CMS added two new healthcare-associated infection measures: Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and Clostridium difficile. The agency also refreshed rates for five readmissions measures—heart attack, heart failure, pneumonia, hip and knee replacement and hospital-wide readmissions—and a measure of hip and knee complications. The CMS declined to update those measures as planned in July, citing an issue related to calculating hospital performance.
- The National Quality Forum's board endorsed a measure that assesses the total cost of services for hospitalized Medicare beneficiaries before, during and after their stays. According to the NQF, the CMS already uses this measure in the agency's Hospital Inpatient Quality Reporting Program and its Hospital Value-based Purchasing Program. The measure did not, however, receive clear support when NQF members voted on the issue in October, and the organization sought more feedback before endorsing it.
Flu vaccine rates higher than last year, but still below federal goals
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