Pennsylvania Gov. Edward Rendell announced a new Department of Public Welfare policy to withhold payments to hospitals for preventable, serious adverse events. The policy codifies and standardizes hospitals ongoing efforts to prevent adverse medical events, according to the Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania.
Under the guidelines, preventable serious adverse events include surgical events, such as surgery performed on the wrong body part or patient; patient-protection events, such as an infant discharged to the wrong family; environmental events, such as a patient death associated with a fall in a healthcare facility; and care-management events, such as a death or disability associated with a medication error. In making payments to hospitals, the department will consider whether the event was preventable, within control of the hospital, and resulted in significant harm, officials said in a news release.
The hospital association said it supports the policy and noted in a news release that Pennsylvanias hospitals have worked collaboratively with the department on the development of a workable policy. Unnecessary errors are costing Pennsylvania businesses, consumers and taxpayers over $960 million annually, Rendell said. The policy took effect Jan. 14, according to a department spokeswoman. (For more on this topic, please see "States rights and wrongs: Part 2.") -- by Cinda Becker