Maybe it's just me, but is this long overdue?
Medicare Won't Pay Hospitals for ErrorsAPPosted: 2008-02-18 14:37:32WASHINGTON (AP) - It's a new way to push for patient safety: Don't pay hospitals when they commit certain errors. Medicare will start hitting hospitals where it hurts in October, and other insurers are hot on the trail.
That has the nation's hospitals exploring innovative programs to prevent injury and infection: Hand-washing spies. Surgical sponges that sound an alarm if left in the body. Even a room sterilizer that promises to wipe out bacteria left lurking on bedrails.
"Money talks," says Dr. Steven Gordon, infectious disease chief at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation. "Every hospital CFO, this gets their attention."
And patients' first sign that something is changing may involve lessening of a big indignity: Today, one in four hospitalized patients is outfitted with a urinary catheter. The tubes trigger more than half a million urinary tract infections a year, the most common hospital-caused infection.
Yet many patients don't even need catheters - they're an automatic precaution after certain surgeries - and many who do have them for days longer than necessary. Why? The University of Michigan reported the first national study of catheter practices last month, finding nearly half of hospitals don't even keep track of who gets one. Fewer than one in 10 hospitals does a daily check to see if the catheter is still needed, a simple but proven infection-reducing system.
Yeah, I've had more than one infection caused by those "automatic precautions." As a matter of fact, there's close to a 1 to 1 correspondence between their precautions and my bad outcomes.
And I've got horror stories about basic hygiene procedures in hospitals...don't even get me started. The idea that Medicare or any insurance would be forced to pick up the tab when a hospital actually causes and infection turns my stomach...
Medicare Won't Pay Hospitals for Errors