Penny-wise/pound foolish – or how Medicare saves money by “losing” patients: Here’s a sneaky little trick we discovered over the weekend. When a Medicare patient arrives at the E.R. they are given written notice (double-sided) of their rights to appeal should they believe they are being discharged too early. They must sign the notice acknowledging that they understand their rights. It is stated that you must appeal to the Quality Improvement Organization NO LATER than your “planned discharge date and before you leave the hospital”. Once you are out the door you have no right to appeal. Sounds good? You have an option, right?

Here’s how we discovered how underhanded, sneaky and downright criminal this system is: Friday night the doctor in charge of Mom’s case told me that she had one more week left of her coverage (see previous post). Did that constitute a “planned discharge date”? Nope. Just a vague indication that she was going to be in the hospital maybe until the end of the week. The very next day, Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. I get a call from a nameless person at the hospital informing me that Mom would be discharged at 2 p.m. and I was to come pick her up! One hour notice! On a Saturday when Medicare offices are not likely to be responding. The medical attendants had unplugged Mom from all the various devices, stripped her bed, put her in a wheel chair and fifteen minutes later we were virtually shooed out the door for home. So much for time to appeal her release!

Our tax dollars preserved at the expense of the people they are supposed to be helping. Hey, I’m as patriotic as they come (seven years in the United States Air Force has to count for something) but today I’m thoroughly ashamed of a few aspects of our so-called health care system – and I also feel a bit betrayed. May the morons who are dragging their feet instead of reforming the system live long enough to get thrown out of a hospital on one hour notice – and to make it even more fun may they be thrown out in the dead of night wearing only a backless hospital gown. That outta show um, don’t you think????


  1. During a recent hospitalization, I observed this same tactic (sudden saturday discharge). The patients daughter had to come from Ohio to take her home. However this patient (87 years old) Knew that she was not ready to be discharged, so she told her nurse that she was dizzy and weak and could not sit up. The orders were changed, and she was calmly awaiting her daughters visit when I left. This a very unfortunate practice of many hospitals. Patients have a option of a Rapid Appeal through the Quality Improvement Organization(QIO).Go to for the full manual of patients rights under medicare.

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