Hospital prices rise in October
Wholesale acute-care hospital prices rose 0.9% in October after a 0.1% drop a month earlier, according to the U.S. Labor Department's Producer Price Index. The PPI measures changes in net revenue per episode of care. The increase in October was the largest monthly jump in the hospital PPI this year. For the 12-month period ended in October, hospital prices rose 3.8%. Wholesale prices for physician services, meanwhile, rose 0.2% in October and were unchanged for the 12-month period ended in October.
Realistic error approach urged
Patient-safety expert Lucian Leape, M.D., in a six-page article in the Nov. 14 New England Journal of Medicine, said the costs and challenges of a national medical-errors reporting system make its feasibility doubtful, and he urged the industry to find a more realistic approach. A national system would be unwieldy; if both serious, error-related adverse events and close calls were reported, the total number of reportable events could be 5 million per year, said Leape, an adjunct professor of health policy at the Harvard School of Public Health. A system of smaller, specialty-focused reporting programs could encompass a broad range of errors, more easily win the commitment and trust of physicians, and allow results to be tailored to practice needs, he said. Existing programs-from state reporting systems to the sentinel-event reporting initiative of the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations-don't capture sufficient volume of evidence to initiate change, Leape said.
Nursing home data `premature'
The federal government's initiative to publicly report nursing home quality data is "premature," although the program has "considerable merit," the General Accounting Office said in a new report. Based on a six-state pilot project launched by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in April, the GAO said it has "serious concerns about the potential for public confusion." According to the GAO, the CMS hasn't demonstrated its readiness to help consumers interpret the data through consumer hot lines or other resources. The CMS rolled out its national initiative last week.