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MA hospitals to adopt no-charge policy for preventable errors

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Modern Healthcare reports that Massachusetts hospitals will adopt a voluntary no-charge policy beginning in 2008 for certain adverse patient events.

The policy will make Massachusetts only the second state where hospitals have agreed to discontinue billing patients and insurers for care related to provider mistakes. Minnesota was the first state to implement such a policy. Minnesota hospitals will stop billing both public and private insurers for 27 preventable adverse events.

The new rule for MA hospitals will cover the nine serious adverse events identified by the National Quality Forum as preventable care mistakes. They include wrong-site surgery, wrong-patient surgery, wrong surgical procedure, surgical instruments left inside patients, incompatible blood-associated injury, air embolism-associated injury, medication error, artificial insemination mistakes and infants discharged to the wrong family.

Under the policy, patients and their insurers would not be charged for wrongful care or any subsequent care needed to address the event. Massachusetts hospitals plan to eventually expand the no-charge policy to include other medical errors, according the MHA release.