Sunday, August 19, 2007

Doctor Doctor

Medicare will stop paying the costs of treating infections, falls, objects left in surgical patients and other things that happen in hospitals that could have been prevented.

The rule change announced this month is among several initiatives that the administration says are intended to improve the accuracy of Medicare's payment for hospital patients who receive acute care and to encourage hospitals to improve the quality of their services.

The rule identifies eight conditions — including three serious types of preventable incidents sometimes called "never events" — that Medicare no longer will pay for.

Those conditions are: objects left in a patient during surgery; blood incompatibility; air embolism; falls; mediastinitis, which is an infection after heart surgery; urinary tract infections from using catheters; pressure ulcers, or bed sores; and vascular infections from using catheters.

Hospitals in the future will be expected to pick up the cost of additional treatment required by a preventable condition acquired in the hospital. "The hospital cannot bill the beneficiary for any charges associated with the hospital-acquired complication," the final rules say.

----Some will shill this change is awful; the patient will pay, the patient will suffer. Not so fast there cowboy Bubba. This could prove to be a good thing. How? you ask. Well Bub, every one of those events occur through negligence. Objects left in, wrong blood type, embolism - misuse of equipment, dirty catheters, etc.

First, lets define "acute care" as : Short-term medical treatment, usually in a hospital, for patients having an acute illness or injury or recovering from surgery.

For 3 decades Medicare and Medicaid created millionaires – physicians, hospital administrators – by simply "short-term" hospitalization of the elderly, especially those throw-aways in nursing homes, and ordering unnecessary tests and procedures – just because.

Getting that pacemaker stay extended and getting staph just because grandpa has 3 more days of billable Medicare benefits available. Or when 86-year-old semi lucid prone to falls gramma is admitted for pneumonia - let's order a mammogram because it's billable.

The rules would have physicians and hospitals think twice before admitting Grandma Gaspains to the hospital where she gets an enema and antacid prescription – after ordering dozens of needless procedures and tests - simply to milk dollars from Medicare reimbursement as has been done for decades.

(My dad was of an era when hospitals were where you went to die. Trauma/acute care was rare. Today the typical ER caters to Medicaid head colds, drug seekers, and little Johnny's earache. No need to wonder why or how genuine emergencies die on the ER floor.)

But, don't worry, HillaryCo will give you universal healthcare, then, as long as pharma, hospitals, and physicians are reimbursed - hospitals and physicians can doctor you to death – and it will all be "free" Bubba, free for everyone!

However, not covered, and something so many Americans suffer with - are headupassto thenecktomies.

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