Last week, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued an announcement proposing that Medicare stop paying for three serious, preventable errors in medical care. These three errors are:

  • Wrong surgical or ot other invasive procedures performed on a patient.
  • Surgical or other invasive procedures performed on the wrong body part.
  • Surgical or other invasive procedures performed on the wrong patient.

These three errors are part of a list of twenty-eight “Never Events” developed by the National Quality Forum. CMS has already included many of the Never

Events in the ten categories of Hospital-Acquired Conditions (HACs) in the Inpatient Prospective Payment System rules. For discharges occurring on or after October 1, 2008, Medicare will no longer pay a hospital at a higher rate for an inpatient hospital stay if the sole reason for the enhanced payment is one of the selected HACs, and the condition was acquired during the hospital stay.

Likewise, the proposed NCDs, if adopted, will affect payment to hospitals, physicians, and any other health care providers and suppliers involved in the erroneous surgeries. CMS is accepting public comments regarding the proposal until January 1, 2009. CMS will issue final NCDs within sixty days of the close of the public comment period.