Blue Shield reimburses for automated Pap smears

Blue Shield of California is now reimbursing for an automated test that is believed to help reduce the chance of misread Pap smears and subsequent lawsuits, a move that may make the test more cost-effective in reducing malpractice cases.

The health plan recently announced it will reimburse for the PapNet test under current procedural terminology codes 88152 and 88158, retroactive to Oct. 15, 1997. PapNet is a computerized analysis of cervical smears that helps laboratory cytotechnologists identify suspicious cells, displaying them on a high-resolution video monitor for review. Many cytotechnologists say the PapNet test enables them to identify more abnormal smears than rescreening the same number of smears with just the microscope. Failure to detect abnormal cervical cells is one of the leading causes of medical malpractice lawsuits.

The PapNet computer system is manufactured by Neuromedical Systems of Suffern, NY. The company estimates the Blue Shield reimbursement will make the test available to 1.6 million health plan members throughout California.