Hospital-acquired, or nosocomial, infections are often caused by poor hospital care. Patients arrive to the hospital and often leave with infections caused by unsanitary hospital conditions. Should Medicare pay for these hospital-induced health care costs?
A knee jerk reaction would be to say no. If the hospital adversely influence patient health, Medicare or other payors should not be responsible for those costs.
However, if Medicare decided to implement a policy where they did not pay for nosocomial infections, doctors would report nearly all infections as community-acquired rather than hospital-acquired. Thus, not paying for nosocomial infections will adversely affect the reporting of these types infections. If the infections are not reported, it will be difficult to eridicate them.
Thus, we are in a catch-22. Paying for medical care resulting from nosocomial infections, discourages the prevention of these infections. Not paying for medical care decreases the incentive to report an infection as nosocomial.
Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.