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Study Shows Medicare Penalties Meant to Reduce Hospital Infections Have No Effect

By Alpert Schreyer on October 15, 2012

A study conducted by the New England Journal of Medicine has shown that a 2008 Medicare policy that attempted to reduce the number of certain hospital-acquired infections by cutting payments tied to treating them as had no effect.

Hospital InfectionsAs reported by The Wall Street Journal, the study examined the effect of the payment change on urinary tract and bloodstream infections caused by catheters, but found “no evidence” that the policy caused any change in the number of infections.

According to the study, hospital-related infections were already decreasing by the time the penalties went into effect. The Medicare policy was designed to ensure that hospitals do not receive extra payments for treating infections caused by preventable hospital conditions.

The study reviewed data from 398 hospitals from January 2006 through March 2011, comparing infection rates before and after October 2008, when the policy went into effect. While also taking into consideration ventilator-associated pneumonia, the study found that there were not any significant changes. The findings have led some to wonder, including the vice president of the American Hospital Association, if payment penalties are the right way to curb hospital errors.

According to the study, bloodstream infections have seen a mostly continual decrease in occurrence, with 1.2 bloodstream infections out of 1,000 catheter days in 2011, compared to the more than three in 2006. Urinary tract infections have seen less decrease, with 1.79 in 2011 and 2.75 in 2006. While these decreases have helped to protect patients, there is little evidence that the penalties had much to do with it.

If you or a loved one has been the victim of medical errors, the Calvert County hospital error injury lawyers at Alpert Schreyer can provide you with the skilled representation to prove fault on the part of hospital staff and find compensation for all of your losses. For more information on how we may be able to aid you in your case, call (844) 632-7274.

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