It is not uncommon for patients to develop infections or suffer injuries during hospital stays. Many of these injuries/infections, however, are preventable. For years, Medicare and private insurance companies have paid for patient medical care made necessary by hospital mistakes. These mistakes can add tens of thousands of dollars to hospital bills. For patients who are uninsured or who have to pay the deductible portion of the medical bills, this can mean thousands of dollars out of pocket.
Beginning in October 2008, Medicare will no longer pay for injuries or infections attributable to preventable hospital errors. The Medicare do-not-pay list will be expanded in 2009 to include additional preventable errors. The do-not-pay list will include the following conditions:
– Urinary tract infections from catheters
– Bloodstream infections from catheters
– Bedsores or pressure ulcers
– Objects left in a patient during surgery
– Giving the wrong type of blood
– Mediastinitis (an infection after heart surgery)
– Air embolism (air bubble in the blood vessel)
While not all hospital infections/injuries are preventable, many are. There is little excuse for leaving a surgical sponge or instrument in a patient during surgery. Yet, it happens all the time. Similarly, many patients are catheterized without any real need, or catheters are left in the patient for extended periods, often without proper cleaning. This routinely results in preventable infections.
Hopefully, these new regulations will result in reductions in preventable hospital infections and injuries. It is expected that many private insurance companies will follow Medicare’s lead and refuse to pay for preventable injuries. If you or a loved one suffered one of these injuries or infections in a hospital, you should contact an experienced medical malpractice lawyer to review your case.