Medicare Won’t Go Broke-But Your Life Is At Risk In U.S. Hospitals

“Remarkably” (?!?!), our hospitals are failing to protect patients from potentially fatal infections despite years of prevention campaigns. The Health and Human Services department’s 2009 quality report to Congress found “very little progress” on eliminating hospital-acquired infections and called for “urgent attention” to address the shortcomings – first brought to light over a decade ago. Of five major types of serious hospital-related infections, rates of illnesses increased for three. As many as 98,000 people a year die from medical errors, and preventable infections – along with medication mix-ups – are a significant part of the problem. We’re talking about hand washing to prevent infections!! Yes, doctors don’t wash their hands! We don’t need to spend millions for research here! When hospitals were asked why infections rates keep going up, their answers include the high cost of implementing patient safety programs?!? Huh?

Amazingly, in many states, hospitals are not even required to report incidences of infections! In the great state of Texas, where I reside, a law was passed requiring reporting, but funds were never appropriated to administer and publicize the data!  There’s no incentive for hospitals to change if these data are not publicized. If we knew your hospital was infested, would you go there?  This is an extremely urgent, fixable problem. Please contact your state congressman/woman and ask how you can obtain these data for your hospital? Your life depends upon it! To see how your hospital rates on other measures of care, go to www.leapfroggroup.org.

Hopefully, the America’s Affordable Healthcare Act will help change this trend of increasing hospital acquired infections. In the bill, Medicare will no longer reimburse hospitals for mistakes (including infections). You know when money is involved, behavior usually changes. It’s the American way, after all.

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