Medicare gives hospitals incentive to improve patient safety

August 13, 2007

Hospitals that treat patients for illnesses resulting from medical errors and hospital-acquired infections will no longer be reimbursed by Medicare, under new rules adopted by CMS.

Hospitals that treat patients for illnesses resulting from medical errors and hospital-acquired infections will no longer be reimbursed by Medicare, under new rules adopted by CMS. Scheduled to take effect in October 2008, the new rules withhold payments to hospitals for treating patients with certain catheter-associated urinary tract infections, vascular catheter-associated infections, mediastinitis after coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery, and five medical errors unrelated to infections: bed sores, objects left in patients' bodies after surgery, blood incompatibility, air embolisms, and falls. The new regulations also prevent hospitals from billing patients for care when Medicare payments are withheld. Consumers Union, the publisher of Consumer Reports, lauded Medicare for using its clout to get hospitals to improve patient safety. CDC estimates that two million patients suffer from hospital infections each year and nearly 100,000 die from them. Hospital-acquired infections cost up to $27.5 billion in additional healthcare expenses annually, according to CDC.

To see more Hot off the Press news articles, click here.

To go to the Drug Topics homepage, click here.