Posted by Bill Sandweg on 17 June 2011.
For many years, informed people in the health care industry have recognized the problem of preventable medical errors and the costs associated with them. More recently, those responsible for paying the bills for patients injured by preventable medical errors have started to push back. Medicare, for instance, has identified certain preventable medical errors and is refusing to pay for the extra care made necessary by the errors. Other major health insurers are following suit. The hope is that by creating a financial penalty for preventable medical errors, hospitals and doctors will work harder to avoid them.
Some of the “Never Events” for which Medicare won’t pay include surgery on the wrong site, surgery on the wrong patient, foreign objects left in the patient during surgery, transfusion with the wrong blood type, air embolism and severe pressure sores.
Looking at the list, most of these are pretty much no brainers. It is obvious why Medicare and the insurance payers have decided that these errors are preventable and that the doctor or hospital making the mistake should be the one paying for any extra care which results from the error.
We all pay for medical malpractice, even if it does not happen directly to us. We should all be doing what we can to encourage safer practices by health care providers. The list of “Never Events” is a good start but nothing more than a start.