The Bush Administration has decided to change the Medicare rules to prevent payment of “preventable” injuries. Who decides what is preventable? How is that decided? Here is part of the article I read:
In a significant policy change, Bush administration officials say that Medicare will no longer pay the costs of treating preventable errors, injuries and infections that occur in hospitals.
Under the new rules, Medicare will not pay hospitals for the costs of treating certain “conditions that could reasonably have been prevented.”
Among the conditions that will be affected are bedsores, or pressure ulcers; injuries caused by falls; and infections resulting from the prolonged use of catheters in blood vessels or the bladder.
In addition, Medicare says it will not pay for the treatment of “serious preventable events” like leaving a sponge or other object in a patient during surgery and providing a patient with incompatible blood or blood products.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that patients develop 1.7 million infections in hospitals each year, and it says those infections cause or contribute to the death of 99,000 people a year — about 270 a day.
“Hundreds of thousands of people suffer needlessly from preventable hospital infections and medical errors every year,” Ms. McGiffert said. “Medicare is using its clout to improve care and keep patients safe. It’s forcing hospitals to face this problem in a way they never have before.”
In most states, Ms. Foster said, hospital records do not show whether a particular condition developed before or after a patient entered the hospital. Under the new rules, she said, hospitals will have to perform more laboratory tests to determine, for example, if patients have urinary tract infections at the time of admission.
Some of the complications for which Medicare will not pay, under the new policy, are caused by common strains of staphylococcus bacteria. Other life-threatening staphylococcal infections may be added to the list in the future, Medicare officials said.