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Medicaid to stop paying for surgical errors for Boston patients

In our last post we discussed the Veterans' Administration's release of data tracking the amount of medical malpractice litigation that occurs against Boston's VA Medical Center. Some of the malpractice suits filed against the VA hospital are for relatively routine errors such as the failure to diagnose a medical condition.

Other lawsuits filed against Veterans' Hospitals across the country involved serious issues such as improper surgical sites and serious infections which can happen at any health care facility. Serious medical malpractice mistakes performed at regular hospitals will no longer be covered by Medicaid according to a new rule published today. The goal of the rule is to minimize the occurrence of preventable hospital mistakes which cost the Medicaid programs millions of dollars every year.

Medicaid is a program that is jointly funded by states like Massachusetts and the federal government. The program assists poor and disabled individuals who require medical services. The new rule will prevent this program from paying medical providers for treatment that was necessary because of malpractice.

The administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said that the rule will encourage better patient outcomes and make hospitals exercise more caution when treating patients.

"These steps will encourage health professionals and hospitals to reduce preventable infections, and eliminate serious medical errors," the administrator said. "As we reduce the frequency of these conditions, we will improve care for patients and bring down costs at the same time."

In our next post we will discuss some of the reaction to the new Medicaid rule and the types of medical malpractice injuries that have made it to the "never event" list or injuries Medicaid will no longer pay for starting in July 2012.

Source: Kaiser Health News, "Medicaid To Stop Paying For Hospital Mistakes," Phil Galewitz, 6/1/11

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