Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Medicare Will Stop Paying Hospitals for Errors--Will Private Health Plans Follow?

Medicare will stop paying for the costs associated with "hospital errors." These can include the costs for treating infections, falls and other things Medicare deems the hospital should have been able to prevent.

Health plans tend to follow Medicare policy in their payment practices. Many believe the private sector is going to follow suit.

On its face, the new policy makes sense. If you get your car fixed, and the garage breaks your car in the process of repair, they ought to make good the damages.

But it can also be more complicated that that when it comes to caring for people.

The Doc over at the blog, "The Physician Executive," made some interesting comments on the subject that included:

"While I understand the value of increasing medical accountability, there must still be recognition that all outcomes, including hospital-acquired infections, have multifactorial causation. So what about a catheter-related infection in someone whose immune system is suppressed from medication. What if the infection was acquired outside the hospital, but became evident in-hospital? What if the patient didn't follow directions? What about the visitors?"

And also:

"The other appalling aspect of this rule is that it does not respect the single most important principle of quality data: NEVER use your data punitively. Despite every temptation to do so, the risk is that you may provide an incentive for people to fiddle with or otherwise manipulate their data."

Doctor Ammon has just begun publishing his own blog and has a really good blogside manner. He's worth checking out.

You can read his full post on the subject.
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