Medical Mistakes Will No Longer Be Billable In Massachusetts

Armen Hareyan's picture

Massachusetts health officials and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts in separate announcements onThursday outlined new policies that will prohibit hospitals and physicians frombilling the state and insurer for preventable medical errors, the Boston Globe reports. Under the policies, 28 kinds ofmedical and surgical errors indentified by a national coalition will no longerbe billable. The state's new rule is part of a national effort to reduce healthcare errors, according to the Globe. The initiative also aims toreduce costs and encourage quality health care, Tom Dehner, director of thestate's Medicaid program, said.

A 2006 Health Affairs study found that costs related to treatingserious medical errors range from an estimated $700 per case for preventablebed sores, to an average of $9,000 for body-wide surgery infections. Massachusetts officialscannot quantify their costs in part because the Department of Public Health did not begin mandating that serious medical mistakes be reported untilrecently.

Seventyserious medical errors were reported to officials from January to May, JimConway, senior vice president of the Institute forHealthcare Improvement, said. The state's new rule will go into effect as contracts withhealth plans are negotiated (Smith, Boston Globe, 6/19).

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