Minnesota Hospitals Agree To Stop Charging Insurers For Hospital Errors

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Hospital Errors

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Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) on Tuesday announced that statehospitals have formally agreed to stop charging patients and insurersfor certain medical errors, as well as for follow-up care requiredbecause of the errors, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. The state is the first in the U.S. to adopt such a policy.

Thenew policy applies to 27 "never events" -- medical errors that shouldnever occur -- including leaving a needle or sponge in a body duringsurgery; operating on the wrong body part or wrong patient; burns;falls; serious medication errors; or severe bedsores. Many hospitals inthe state stopped billing for such errors after a state law took effectin 2004 that requires hospitals to report incidences of never events,according to Bruce Rueben, president of the Minnesota Hospital Association. CMS last month announced that Medicare no longer would reimburse hospitals for certain errors.

Ruebensaid, "We're formalizing and saying out loud this is what hospitals aregoing to do and have been doing." He added that while some situationsmay not be clear cut, "once you determine it's a preventable adverseevent, well of course you can't expect that the patient is going to payfor care," adding, "Who could defend anything else?" (Lerner,Minneapolis Star Tribune, 9/18).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. Youcan view the entire Kaiser DailyHealth Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email deliveryat kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, afree service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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