Not-reimbursing hospitals for MRSA: The reaction

You’ll remember that early in the summer we talked about the proposal by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services to cease reimbursing hospitals for the additional care of a patient that is required when a hospital gives a patient a nosocomial infection. CMS has been debating whether to include several types of hospital-acquired infection in the 2009 iteration of its “never event” no-reimbursement list. (CMS has not announced its final choices.)

Healthcare’s reaction has been, hmmm, not positive. At The New Health Dialogue, Joanne Kenen captures the reactions, many of which run along the lines of “infections are inevitable because patients are so sick.” But she’s also found a marvelous (and appalling?) argument that goes, more or less, “Preventing infections will be more costly, not less, because hospitals will introduce additional procedures to protect themselves.”

This recalls the intriguing and dismaying suggestion in JAMA a few weeks ago that “search and destroy” active surveillance is driven less by wanting to halt in-hospital transmission and more by hospitals wanting to build a case that patients brought the infection with them.

Maryn

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