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State Bars Payments To Hospitals For Mistakes00:22

This article is more than 10 years old.

Massachusetts hospitals can no longer receive payments for preventable mistakes such as wrong-site surgeries, major medication errors and some infections.

The regulation approved Wednesday by the Department of Public Health prohibits hospitals from charging or being reimbursed for certain procedures that cause death or serious injury. Paul Dreyer, director of the state's Division of Healthcare Quality, says it had already been rare for hospitals to be paid for errors.

"Many hospitals didn't charge people for charges associated with these events; it's just not the right thing to do," Dreyer said. "But the regulation makes it explicit: that hospitals may not charge for care associated with the occurrence of these events."

The nonpayment rule is part of an effort to improve patient safety at hospitals. It does not apply to Medicare patients, however, since federal rules override state laws.

This program aired on May 14, 2009.

Sacha Pfeiffer Twitter Host, All Things Considered
Sacha Pfeiffer was formerly the host of WBUR's All Things Considered.


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