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Medicare Will No Longer Pay for Hospital Errors

September 4, 2007

Medicare Says It Won’t Cover Hospital Errors


Published: August 19, 2007

WASHINGTON, Aug. 18 ”” In a significant policy change, Bush administration officials say that Medicare will no longer pay the extra costs of treating preventable errors, injuries and infections that occur in hospitals, a move they say could save lives and millions of dollars.

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Eileen O’Neill-Pardo’s mother, Margaret, died after an infection developed at a hospital.

Private insurers are considering similar changes, which they said could multiply the savings and benefits for patients.

Under the new rules, to be published next week, Medicare will not pay hospitals for the costs of treating certain “conditions that could reasonably have been prevented.”

Among the conditions that will be affected are bedsores, or pressure ulcers; injuries caused by falls; and infections resulting from the prolonged use of catheters in blood vessels or the bladder.

In addition, Medicare says it will not pay for the treatment of “serious preventable events” like leaving a sponge or other object in a patient during surgery and providing a patient with incompatible blood or blood products.

“If a patient goes into the hospital with pneumonia, we don’t want them to leave with a broken arm,” said Herb B. Kuhn, acting deputy administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The new policy ”” one of several federal initiatives to improve care purchased by Medicare, at a cost of more than $400 billion a year ”” is sending ripples through the health industry.