Over the last several months, much has been written on the medical blogosphere and on medical websites about "never events":
In August 2007, Medicare announced that, starting October 2008, it will no longer reimburse the treatment hospitals must provide to redress eight medical errors, a list likely to lengthen in the future. In fact, CMS has already announced its plan to add ventilator-associated pneumonia and deep vein thrombosis to its list in fiscal year 2009.
Some of the events on the list are expected complications of treatment rather than true medical mistakes.
For now, the Medicare decision affects only hospitals. So why should physicians worry?
Although under the never-event rule physicians may still bill for their services when a mistake on Medicare’s list occurs in the hospital, Gosfield says those days are numbered. “I think at some point that will change,” she says. “There’s going to be more and more emphasis on shared clinical responsibility for patients — that you should pay attention to where you are referring to and who you’re taking referrals from.