Medicare to withhold payments for certain hospital infections and medical errors

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Under new Medicare regulations, hospitals will no longer receive higher payments for the additional costs associated with treating patients for certain hospital-acquired infections and medical errors. The new rules will give hospitals a powerful new incentive to improve patient care, according to Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports.

Under the rules adopted by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), payments will be withheld from hospitals for care associated with treating certain catheter-associated urinary tract infections, vascular catheter-associated infections, mediastinitis after coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery, and five other medical errors unrelated to infections (bed sores, objects left in patients' bodies, blood incompatibility, air embolism, and falls). The new rules will go into effect in October 2008.

The new Medicare regulations include protections to prevent hospitals from billing patients when payments are withheld and to minimize avoidance of patients perceived to be at risk for infections, according to the Consumers Union.

A copy of the new CMS regulations can be found at: