Employer Groups Voice Concerns About Medical Errors
A group of large U.S. employers on Wednesday called on U.S. hospitals to apologize and waive costs for "never" events -- medical errors that the employers say should never occur and for which patients should not be billed, the Chicago Tribune reports.
The Leapfrog Group, a national coalition of large health care purchasers, and the Midwest Business Group on Health, a Chicago-based group representing more than 80 local employers, have asked hospitals to agree to be held accountable for 28 health care "never" events.
They include such occurrences as surgery performed on the wrong body part; mixing up donor sperm for an artificial insemination; "retention of a foreign object in a patient after surgery"; and patient injury associated with "contaminated drugs, devices or biologics provided by the health care facility." Under the proposal, hospitals either would waive the charges for the original treatment or assume the costs for additional treatment needed after the error.
Leapfrog said the details of "what constitutes 'waiving cost' should be handled on a case-by-case basis by the parties involved."
According to the Tribune, "the seriousness of the errors on the group's list could make defending a demand for payment for these errors hard to justify and cause a political firestorm if hospitals did not comply."
The American Hospital Association said that it expected most hospitals would sign on with the proposal but added that each medical error case would have to be evaluated individually.
According to the Tribune, the push by U.S. businesses to eradicate medical errors and the cost imposed on patients comes as Congress and the Bush administration consider financial penalties for providers who commit medical errors (Japsen, Chicago Tribune, 11/16).