Rapid Boost in Hyperbaric Therapy for Diabetics – Medicare deters Overuse

Hyperbaric Therapy for Diabetics

Many diabetic patients with obstinate wounds are given hyperbaric treatment for recovery. However, Medicare is seen deterring the overuse of this therapy as some specialists are questioning its efficacy in healing diabetic wounds. Hyperbaric therapy involves pumping pure oxygen in the pressurized air chamber of a diabetic patient for two hours every weekday. The process is often as long as a month. 20 such sessions can get $9000 as revenue to the hospital.

Villages hospital serves a retirement community in Florida that supplied considerable number of hyperbaric patients to another hospital close by. The hospital management team know their patients favored their appointments as it is close to their residence.

Todd Powell, supervisor for the therapy at Villages hospital said “Wound care was a service line we saw as low-hanging fruit.”

Several hospitals agreed with the fact resulting in 1,300 hospitals in the US installing hyperbaric facilities. Medicare- the most renowned hyperbaric service payer- flagged signs of overuse of this therapy in some areas of the country. However, the officials from Medicare refused to comment on this.

The ADA (American Diabetes Association) is not favoring or recommending the treatment to its citizen. The ADA committee formed of specialists in diabetes scrutinized the research a year ago and came to a conclusion that there wasn’t enough data to prove the effectiveness of the therapy and support its usage.

Some diabetes specialists also said that increased use of hyperbaric therapy for diabetic wounds should owe more to hospital’s hunt for Medicare income than to the value of treatment.

“The science remains poor to support its use, but it is being widely used [in the United States], and one possible explanation to this may be related to reimbursement,” said Dr. Andrew Boulton, who is a globally acknowledged expertise in hyperbaric therapy.

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