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Effective Oct 2008, Medicare plans to stop paying for 6 hospital-acquired conditions

AmedNews.com reports today that a newly proposed Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) rule aims to change the country’s current payment system which offers hospitals little financial incentive to prevent complications. Currently, hospitals stand to make more money for treating the conditions patients acquire during their stays, patient safety advocates charge. The rule, set to go into effect in October 2008, would deny Medicare payment for six costly and sometimes deadly preventable hospital-acquired conditions, including pressure ulcers, two hospital-acquired infections (catheter-associated urinary tract infections and Staphylococcus aureus septicemia) and, interestingly, three “never events” (air embolism, blood incompatibility and object left behind in surgical patient). Besides those on the list for 2008, seven more conditions are under consideration for 2009.

The list of 27 never events was developed in 2002 by the National Quality Forum, at the request of the federal government, after an Institute of Medicine (IOM) report estimated that medical errors in hospitals cause 44,000 to 98,000 deaths in the United States each year. Currently, three states, including Minnesota and New Jersey, do have laws in place that require public reporting of never events, and Illinois will become the fourth – with a new law set to take effect January 1, 2008.

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