The New York Times came out Sunday with a strong call for making the new Medicare rule to stop paying for care needed after hospitals harm their patients apply to physicians too, stating the current policy lets “doctors off scot-free.” The editorial ponders the rationale for not paying a hospital for a second operation needed when a surgeon leaves a sponge or instrument in a patient while paying the doctor for the very same surgery.

Guess this is what the AMA was afraid of when they issued a statement generally opposing the concept of using payment policies to motivate the health care system to quit harming patients. According to one source, the AMA membership voted in June to protest several new hospital-acquired conditions proposed for the non-payment rule. The docs objected to several specific proposed items several which were not finally approved (delirium, Legionnaires disease), but several that were (deep vein thrombosis following hip and knee replacement). But when the AMA issued their statement it was more sweeping, saying that some conditions on the list, such as surgical site infections, were not reasonably preventable and could not be reduced to near zero. This should be news the new initiative of USHHS/CDC, “Elimination of Healthcare-Associated Infections: Setting National Targets and Identifying Metrics.” Maintaining the mindset that these infection are inevitable only perpetuates health care’s failure to end these deadly infections.