RICHARDSON, Texas, July 21 /PRNewswire/ -- Officials at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas (BCBSTX) have announced, as part of its continuing focus on promoting patient safety and cost-effective, quality health care, a new policy to address a prominent issue in the healthcare industry -- "serious hospital acquired conditions" and "never events" (errors in patient care that can and should be prevented). The new policy means it is BCBSTX's intent not to pay the additional costs resulting from hospital-based preventable medical errors. In recent months, the healthcare industry has engaged in discussions about payment for so called "Never Events." As defined by the National Quality Forum (NQF, a non-profit membership organization created to develop and implement a national strategy for health care quality measurement and reporting), "Never Events" are adverse events that are serious, but largely preventable, and of concern to both the public and health care providers for purposes of public accounting. "Never Events" earned that name because these events should never happen in medical practice. "Partnering with the hospital community is the best approach to address the systemic issues involved in preventing medical errors before they unnecessarily threaten a member's health and add to the cost of care," says Dr. Eduardo J. Sanchez, vice president and chief medical officer of BCBSTX. "Our goal is to continue to develop innovative outcomes-based programs that reward or recognize hospitals for providing quality care and promote prevention of medical errors." In coordination with the Texas Hospital Association (THA), BCBSTX will apply five principles or guidelines when a "serious hospital acquired condition" or "never event" occurs, involving determination, by a medical director, whether the event was preventable, within control of the hospital, the result of a mistake and resulted in significant harm to the patient. These principles will be applied to hospital acquired conditions identified by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) as well as to nine NQF never events to determine whether reimbursement to the hospital should be reduced for the additional costs related to the event. The nine NQF events are:
1. Surgery performed on the wrong body part. 2. Surgery performed on the wrong patient. 3. The wrong surgical procedure performed on a patient. 4. Patient death or serious disability associated with intravascular air embolism that occurs while being cared for in a facility. 5. An infant discharged to the wrong person. 6. Patient death or serious disability associated with a hemolytic reaction due to the administration of ABO-incompatible blood or blood products. 7. Death or serious disability, including kernicterus, associated with failure to identify and treat hyperbilirubinemia in neonates during the first 28 days of life. 8. Artificial insemination with the wrong donor sperm or donor egg. 9. Patient death or serious disability associated with a burn incurred from any source while being cared for in a facility. "We are pleased to collaborate with Blue Cross in promoting hospital safety and adoption of new billing policies that address this issue," said Dan Stultz, M.D., FACP, FACHE, president/CEO of the Texas Hospital Association. "As the Texas Hospital Association joins the American Hospital Association and other state associations in adopting guidelines for voluntary discounting or waiving of payment for care associated with serious, adverse events, we look forward to cooperation among all facets of the health care industry. We also anticipate that this joint commitment to improve patient safety will support current efforts that are underway to develop national standards to minimize administrative costs and create uniform expectations for all hospitals and payers." Dr. Sanchez emphasized that BCBSTX's primary objective is patient safety and quality medical care within the large Blue Cross network of hospitals. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas -- the only statewide, customer-owned health insurer in Texas -- is the largest provider of health benefits in the state, working with nearly 40,000 physicians and 400 hospitals to serve 4 million members in all 254 counties. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas is a Division of Health Care Service Corporation (HCSC), the country's largest non-investor-owned health insurer and fourth largest health insurer overall. HCSC is a Mutual Legal Reserve Company and an Independent Licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.
SOURCE Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas