One proposal calls for hospitals to guarantee their work. If patients experience certain avoidable complications up to 90 days after surgery, then they they don't have to pay.
This article first appeared December 06, 2017 on Kaiser Health News.
Linda Radach has had six hip replacement operations since 2006, three on each side. Osteoarthritis was the reason she needed surgery in the first place, but replacing her hips in some ways only worsened her troubles.
Following two of the procedures, the implanted metal socket didn’t integrate with the bone of her own hip socket and was loose, causing excruciating pain. Most recently, the titanium metal ball in her hip corroded.
The surgical complications were bad enough, but after one of the operations, Radach, 63, also developed cellulitis, a bacterial skin infection that if left untreated can turn deadly.
Having to pay for medical mistakes added insult to injury, said Radach, who explained that each surgery typically cost her about $5,000 out-of-pocket.
“Nobody should come out of the hospital with an infection,” she said. “Why does any patient pay for a medical error like that? … Because that’s the way the system is set up.”
Now Radach, who lives in Seattle, is trying to change that system. She is a patient advocate with the Dr. Robert Bree Collaborative, a program established by the state Legislature to improve the quality and cost-effectiveness of care.
One recommendation is that patients shouldn’t have to pay for their care if they experience certain avoidable complications up to 90 days after surgery. A participating hospital would guarantee its work, or patients would be off the hook for the copayment or would get that money back.
Kaiser Health News is a national health policy news service that is part of the nonpartisan Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.