New York residents may be familiar with a Medicare policy in 2008 that was designed to save money. The policy required hospitals to track and report hospital-acquired infections.
Subsequently, this data would be used to determine whether or not to deny Medicare payments for certain hospital-acquired infections - infections such as urinary tract infections (UTIs). After all, why should Medicare pay the full cost of treating a patient whose condition was created by a hospital error in the first place? However, a recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine reveals that despite this policy, infections in hospitals are likely rarely reported.
It was originally believed that the Medicare policy would provide large financial savings given the ability to deny payment for certain hospital-acquired infections. But, after reviewing billing data in roughly 100 acute care hospitals, researchers discovered little to no financial savings. For example, the study found that payments for infection decrease only by 0.003 percent for all hospital stays.
At first glance, this lack of billing changes may indicate that hospitals are simply improving their quality of care, but as with everything that seems obvious on its face, that isn't necessarily what it occurring.
For instance when it comes to UTIs, many hospitals simply list these as UTIs, even though the infection stemmed from catheter use after being admitted to the hospital. By labeling the infection as a simple UTI, and not acknowledging the patient acquired the infection at the hospital, the hospital will receive normal payment. This can occur more easily than you think since nurses often deal with catheters, but it's the doctor's records that are often used for billing.
Given the researchers conclusions, not only might hospital care not be getting better, but hospitals that report infections properly may being penalized under the 2008 policy since they appear to be "worse" even though they are not.
It is estimated that around 130,000 Medicare patients experience one or more adverse hospital events per month, making this study even more important as researchers believe it may have implications in other areas of hospital-acquired conditions - areas such as bed sores and pressure ulcers.
Seek Help If Injured
Hospital negligence can result in serious injuries and even death. Individuals experiencing harm due to a doctor or hospital's negligence can benefit from an experienced medical malpractice attorney. The attorney can provide knowledge and assist with obtaining any available compensation.