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MI hospitals to stop billing for preventable medical errors

The Michigan Health & Hospital Association joins a growing list of hospital associations, states and payers who have adopted policies to stop billing patients for certain serious preventable errors (“never events”) and hospital-acquired conditions. This follows on from Medicare‘s decision to cease payment from 2008, for specific hospital medical errors.

The association formalized a non-billing policy where its member hospitals will not bill patients for 11 conditions, including three hospital-acquired infections and eight never events as defined by the National Quality Forum. The eight events are: wrong-site, wrong-patient and wrong-procedure surgeries; object retained after surgery; air embolism; blood incompatibility; stage 3 or 4 pressure ulcers; and injuries from falls or burns. The nonbilling policy also covers three conditions: catheter-associated urinary tract infections, vascular catheter-associated infections and surgical-site infections related to heart bypass procedures.

Other hospital groups adopting similar non-billing policies include Vermont, Minnesota, Massachussets, Tennessee and Colorado.

There are 39 states where patients can expect that they, or their insurance providers, still may be billed for so called “never-events”. Only four states have agreed to waive fees for all “never events.” Other states have agreed not to charge for eight, nine or 10 mistakes, or created their own lists based on NQF standards.

States which advises hospitals not to charge for serious, preventable errors include Delaware, Georgia, Indiana, Maine, Massachussetts, Minnesota, NY, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Vermont and Washington

Other States are moving towards greater transparency in reporting medical errors including New Jersey, Colorado and Rhode Island.

Some insurers have also begun to include provisions in contracts that they will not pay for (or let patients be billed for) care related to 28 “never events” compiled by the National Quality Forum. These include Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and Wellpoint.