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Qualty of Care 

June 19, 2008, 1:28 pm
In Massachusetts, No Pay for Medical Errors

The drumbeat to stop paying for medical mistakes grew louder yesterday, as Massachusetts’ biggest insurer and the state itself both said they’d no longer reimburse doctors and hospitals for 28 medical errors.
The errors are listed at the bottom of this press release. Hospitals won’t be able to bill for operating on the wrong body part. Nor will they be reimbursed when a medication error results in serious harm or death, or when a line for oxygen or another gas is contaminated or contains the wrong gas.
The list was adopted by both Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts and by several state agencies that provide or subsidize insurance for the poor and government employees, among others. In total, about 4 million people are affected, the Boston Globe reports.
Medicare got things started last year, announcing that it would no longer pay for care related to so-called “never events” — preventable errors such as leaving items inside surgery patients or giving the wrong blood type. Cigna and WellPoint adopted similar policies earlier this year.
The Massachusetts Hospital Association has already agreed not to bill for certain events. But the association’s president, Lynn Nicholas, told the Globe that the group has concerns about some details of the state’s new policy. For example, the rules ban payment if a patient suffers serious injury or dies because of a contaminated medical device.
“But what if there’s a device contaminated by the producer or that comes with faulty instructions?” Nicholas said. “Should the hospital not be paid for something they could not have prevented, that was not within its control?”
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