Illnesses, injuries and infections caused by medical mistakes or negligence in hospitals will no longer be covered by Medicare, the government health insurance program for senior citizens. This new initiative can save the lives and wellbeing of patients because it will make doctors and hospitals more accountable for preventable errors and force them to adhere more closely to policies and procedures. Private insurers are considering implementing a similar policy, which could save Americans money.
The preventable conditions that will not be covered by Medicare include surgical tools left inside patients after surgery, incompatible blood or air embolisms, bedsores or pressure ulcers developed during a hospital stay, injuries resulting from falls in the hospital, and infections caused by extended use of catheters in blood vessels or the bladder and infections at a surgical site after coronary artery bypass surgery. Some hospital spokesmen have expressed concerns that, for instance, bedsores are sometimes unpreventable. The conditions that have been chosen to be excluded from Medicare coverage are not arbitrary, however. They have been chosen by experts that believe they can be reasonably prevented. Levin & Perconti, for example, settled a case for $1 million recently when a nursing home claimed that a patient’s severe pressure sores were not avoidable. The patient, however, was able to completely recover when moved to a different facility. The included injuries were chosen by experts and stand as federal recognition that they are avoidable and can be prevented by stronger adherence to policies and procedures.
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