Paper: Hospital readmissions in Pa. cost millions

PITTSBURGH – A western Pennsylvania newspaper says people in the commonwealth are paying millions of dollars for repeat hospital stays to treat complications or infections that might have been avoided.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review says hospitals charged more than $1.25 billion for such readmissions in 2009, according to an analysis of the latest data from the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council.

Pennsylvania hospitals reported 24,197 readmissions in 2009 for people who came back within 30 days because of a complication or infection. Patients with congestive heart failure accounted for the most readmissions and the highest charges, and infectious pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease also topped the list.

But across the nation, the paper said, hospitals have a financial incentive for readmitting patients rather than keeping them healthy and at home.

Of course, Medicare stopped paying for medical mistakes back in 2008 including hospital infections. The hope was not just to save money but to create incentives to improve care  and reduce the human cost of hospital infections.

Is it possible that this goal has yet to be realized?

Information from: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review,

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