CHICAGO, Aug. 11 — Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois (BCBSIL) announced today its intent not to pay for costs resulting from hospital-based preventable medical errors known as “serious hospital acquired conditions” and “never events” (errors in patient care that can and should be prevented). BCBSIL said it will work with hospitals in its networks to put this new approach into operation and ensure that members are held harmless financially when these events occur.
In addition, BCBSIL reiterated its longstanding commitment to collaborating with contracted network providers to prevent medical errors before they occur.
“Blue Cross’ goal for years has been to work to prevent medical errors, which often go undetected. To this end, Blue Cross has and will continue to collaborate with hospitals and physicians in our communities to promote quality and safety and prevent medical errors before they threaten patients’ health and add to the cost of care,” Scott Sarran, MD, BCBSIL’s chief medical officer, said.
For years, BCBSIL has participated in initiatives designed to prevent medical errors. In 2001, for example, BCBSIL began an outcomes-based reimbursement program that provides incentives to hospitals when they provide care without complications. Designed to enhance quality and safety, this approach can reduce employer groups’ claims costs if hospitals’ services do not meet established quality criteria.
In addition to payment methodologies, BCBSIL participates in a variety of initiatives designed to help prevent medical errors, including:
* — Rewarding BCBSIL PPO and HMO physicians who complete the American Board of Medical Specialties’ Patient Safety Improvement Program, which addresses a host of inpatient and outpatient safety issues;
* — Encouraging hospitals (through letters, personal meetings, Blue Cross’ “Hospital Profile” scoring, and public reporting) to comply with and make public information about their progress towards meeting The Leapfrog Group’s patient safety standards. The Leapfrog Group’s goal is to reduce preventable medical errors and improve the quality and affordability of health care;
* — Measuring and reporting diverse indicators of hospital quality and patient safety. For the past six years, the results from the BCBSIL profile have been sent to hospital CEOs, and receive the attention of senior management;
* — Annually collecting data from Illinois hospitals on their participation in state and national patient safety and quality improvement programs and their procedures for addressing “near misses;”
* — Making information about hospital quality and safety available to members via our Blue Star Hospital Report, which is available at http://www.bcbsil.com; and
* — Starting up and providing the first $1 million in funding for a statewide e-prescribing system, which is open to network physicians, health insurance carriers, pharmacies, technology providers, professional societies, and others. Since its inception in April 2007, participating physicians have written approximately 467,500 electronic prescriptions – 41,573 in June 2008 alone. Moreover, in June, the system, which is designed to help prevent medication errors, detected more than 4,500 potential negative drug interactions, of which nearly 19% resulted in a change or cancellation of the proposed prescription. In addition, in June, the system detected more than 700 potential allergic reactions. As a result, physicians changed or cancelled more than 8% of prescriptions.