12 March 2011

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) has a number of uses. The one that has my attention is the use for diabetic wound healing. And I have seen it work – no, not on me, but on another fellow that had not been managing his diabetes, but when given the facts of diabetes and his wound decided that management was worth the effort.

The therapy involves breathing pure oxygen in a pressurized room or a pressurized chamber. It is used to treat decompression sickness, serious infections, and wounds that won't heal from diabetes or radiation injury just to name some of the uses.

What is really difficult to understand is that in this country the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society (UHMS) lists approvals for reimbursement for certain diagnoses in hospital and clinics. These are reimbursement decisions based on cost of medical treatments verses HBOT at the hospital charge of $1800.00 per 90 minute HBOT treatment. And this probably does not include the attending physician fee and several other fees.

Medicare does recognize HBOT as a reimbursable treatment for 14 UHMS “approved” conditions. Medicare seems to reimburse between $108 and $250 in private clinics and over $1000 in hospitals. This is a great difference in ranges and seems discriminatory.

There seems to be quite a difference in procedures around the country and whether is is a chamber or pressurized room there is also a difference in some procedures. Safety is always emphasized and very strictly adhered to so that if you are going to be using one, be sure of the instructions of what is to be worn and what not to carry in with you. Also do not use certain cremes or lotions that can be flammable. Hopefully, you will ask for the restrictions beforehand to avoid being denied HBOT treatments.

There are several good sources of reading and I will include three of them. Article one is from the Mayo Clinic and can be found here. Article two is from Sechrist Industries, Inc. and is here. The third article is from the Wikipedia site here.

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