Navigation Links Examines Major Medical Mistakes Called 'Never Events'

DARIEN, Ill., Nov. 19 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Medical doctors take the oath of "Primum non nocere" in medical school, a Latin phrase that means "First, do no harm."

While no doctor intends to harm a patient, even the most skilled and well-intentioned medical professionals can make mistakes -- mistakes that should never happen. Yet there are medical mistakes so serious, so outrageous, that they are called "Never Events." examines these in a new report.

    What could possibly go wrong when you go the hospital?
    --  Doctors have operated on the wrong body parts, amputated the wrong
        limbs and left surgical devices and sponges inside patients.
    --  Some patients receive transfusions of the wrong blood type or are
        given an incorrect dose of medications.
    --  Women have been artificially inseminated with the wrong donor sperm.

That's only for starters.

Health insurers and Medicare have been footing the bill for these mistakes for years. In August 2008, 23 states decided that hospitals can no longer bill patients and insurers for medical mistakes beginning in 2009. There are currently 12 states that already operate this way. Under the old system, patients and their insurers experienced the added insult of receiving a bill for corrective surgery resulting from medical mistakes.

In October 2008, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services stopped reimbursing hospitals for the costs of fixing certain medical mistakes.

Now, major insurers are announcing that they will tear up bills for Never Events.

Exactly when and how you could be billed for a Never Event is difficult to pin down.

For example, if your doctor leaves a surgical instrument inside your body, you would be billed for the initial surgery but not for the re-operation to remove the instrument. You shouldn't be billed for whatever surgery o

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