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Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield Announces Initiative to Protect Members' Health Aimed at Preventing Serious Medical Errors
Date:4/2/2008

NEW YORK, April 2, 2008 /PRNewswire/ -- Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield (Empire) announced today that collaborative efforts are currently underway with its hospital network that are aimed at helping to eliminate preventable adverse events as defined by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the National Quality Forum. In a letter released in March, as well as conversations that have occurred throughout this year, Empire has expressed its philosophy that while there are inherent risks in the delivery of health care, the occurrence of preventable adverse events should be tracked, reduced and ultimately eliminated, and that Empire customers and members should not be obligated to pay for services related to certain clearly preventable adverse events. Working with our providers on these initiatives will help protect Empire's more than five million members from both the care and cost impact of these avoidable events.

"As we work to finalize and implement our supporting policy and process surrounding adverse events, we will seek input from the New York hospital community in our efforts to align the interests and incentives of all concerned parties," said John Whitney, M.D., regional vice president, Medical Affairs and Pharmacy for Empire. "We will continue to work collaboratively with physicians and hospitals to analyze why and how these events occur, and to proactively find ways to improve patient safety and clinical care."

Empire's first phase of the initiative includes a request that hospitals not bill, or otherwise seek reimbursement from any party, if any of the following three adverse events occur:

-- Surgery performed on the wrong body part;

-- Surgery performed on the wrong patient; and

-- Wrong surgical procedure performed on a patient.

Empire will also work collaboratively with its participating hospitals and physicians to ensure that only the appropriate payment is made, and its customers and
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SOURCE Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield
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