News Briefs

PA hospitals address preventable errors

The Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP) in Harrisburg has voiced the hospital community's support of a new Department of Public Welfare (DPW) policy, announced by Gov. Rendell, in which hospitals will not receive payments for preventable serious adverse events, which include surgery performed on the wrong body part and serious medication errors.

HAP is a statewide membership services organization that advocates for nearly 250 Pennsylvania acute and specialty care, primary care, sub-acute care, long-term care, home health, and hospice providers, as well as the patients and their communities.

"Pennsylvania's hospitals have worked collaboratively with the Department of Public Welfare on the development of a workable policy to address when payment will not be made under the state's medical assistance program," said Paula Bussard, HAP senior vice president for policy and regulatory services, in a prepared statement. "We think that this new policy provides guidance for hospitals and the medical assistance program that will assure that payments are made to hospitals for medically necessary services, and not made when preventable serious adverse events occur during a hospitalization."

The policy, which is to take effect this month, codifies and standardizes hospitals' ongoing efforts to prevent adverse medical events. The policy will apply to preventable serious adverse events that occur during an inpatient stay that result in significant harm to medical assistance patients at a general acute care hospital.

"Hospitals recognize that preventable serious adverse events can have a profound effect on patients," Bussard said. "This policy represents another important step in Pennsylvania hospitals' efforts to provide the best possible care to each person who comes through our doors."

Two insurers to stop paying for hospital errors

Two major insurance companies, Aetna and WellPoint Inc., have decided to stop paying for certain hospital errors themselves or prevent hospitals from billing patients for procedures that ended in hospital errors.

The insurance companies are choosing different sets of errors to not pay for. Aetna is using the 28 "never events" outlined by the National Quality Forum (NQF), while WellPoint focuses on four events from NQF's list.

Study says low use of outpatient rehab after MI

Just 35% of heart attack survivors reported receiving outpatient cardiac rehabilitation services when surveyed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Only 21 states and the District of Columbia participated in the 2005 survey. Possible reasons for low rates of use include cost and lack of referral or access to services, the authors said.