Hyperbaric treatment, increasingly directed at diabetics – many of them elderly with persistent wounds – requires breathing pure air inside a pressurized air chamber typically for two hours each weekday, then a month often for more. Villages serves a central Florida retirement community that supplied nearly half of the hyperbaric patients at another hospital half an hour away. Hospital officials knew their customers preferred their medical consultations only a golf-cart’s trip from home.
Todd Powell, who oversees hyperbaric therapy at Village’s medical center. Many hospitals seem to agree. 450 for a two-hour session – and for-profit management companies that do a lot of the work, 1 nearly,300 U.S. That’s triple the number an industry group says offered the service in 2002, when Medicare decided to pay for the treatment for certain diabetic wounds first. Medicare – the biggest payer of hyperbaric services – has flagged evidence of overuse in at least some places.
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Medicare officials declined to comment for this story, however they have retained coverage for more than 15 years, even while studies have questioned the therapy’s effectiveness. The American Diabetes Association does not recommend the procedure. Some experts say hyperbaric therapy’s increased use for diabetic wounds owes more to private hospitals’ pursuit of Medicare income than to the treatment’s proven value.
Dr. Andrew Boulton, a recognized expert on hyperbaric therapy internationally, and a teacher of medicine at University of Manchester medical school in Great Britain. John Peters, executive director of the Undersea & Hyperbaric Medical Society, which accredit 200 hyperbaric oxygen facilities nationally and have inspected 500 for accreditation before 15 years. A building was driven by That decision boom in outpatient wound treatment centers over another half-decade, offering hyperbaric therapy.
Medicare covers the treatment for more than a dozen conditions where the skin does not heal, such as faltering grafts and tissue damage from anti-cancer from radiation, but the USA’s rising diabetic population supplies a lot of the demand. 500,000 to set up a hyperbaric unit with two chambers. With Medicare’s profitable reimbursement policies, “hospitals can immediately generate cash almost,” Peters said. During hyperbaric periods, patients merely lie on the bed in a glass-enclosed tube containing high-pressure oxygen under a physician’s guidance.
The business design is so powerful that management companies typically pay for the equipment and staff. Hospitals provide space for the chamber, make patient deal with and referrals billing. The ongoing companies and the hospitals split revenue from insurers. Due to poor blood circulation, diabetics are susceptible to developing ulcers in their calves and feet that heal poorly and can sometimes lead to amputations. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy, theoretically, works by revitalizing the body’s creation of new blood vessels and aiding the forming of new pores and skin around a wound. Unwanted effects are uncommon but include hearing and sinus pressure, paralysis, and air embolisms.