Government Incentivizes Patient Safety

The 2010 healthcare law made it federal policy that government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid won’t reimburse doctors or hospitals for preventable medical errors. Medicare, the federally funded healthcare plan for the elderly, already has such a policy in place. Medicaid, which is a joint federal/state operation, has mandated that every state adopt the policy by July 2012.
“These steps will encourage health professionals and hospitals to reduce preventable infections, and eliminate serious medical errors,” Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Donald Berwick said in a statement.
“As we reduce the frequency of these conditions, we will improve care for patients and bring down costs at the same time.”
The preventable medical errors consist of so-called “never” events because they are thoroughly preventable and should never occurs. Such medical errors as wrong site surgery, leaving a surgical sponge inside a patient, and transfusing the wrong blood type are some of the “never” medical errors that will not be reimbursed.
If the healthcare industry can’t police itself and improve patient safety, perhaps a monetary incentive from state and federal government will do it.