News: CMS docks hospitals for 'never events'

October 17, 2008

Experts believe it won't be long before physicians who are paid under Medicare Part B will be docked for "never events."

Hospitals love the physicians who round for Holston Medical Group in Kingsport, Tennessee. The 11 hospitalists who are part of the 150-provider multispecialty practice boast area hospitals' lowest rates of "serious reportable events," or "never events," which are errors hospitals stopped getting reimbursed for by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services as of October 1.

In 2002, CMS unveiled a list of 27 never events, as defined by the nonprofit group National Quality Forum, and the roster was expanded to 28 in 2006. As of now, only hospitals reimbursed under Medicare Part A are hit with the payment reduction. But experts believe it won't be long before physicians who are paid under Medicare Part B will be docked for the errors too.

Holston physicians have avoided these errors through real-time information sharing on the group's practice management system, says Jerry Miller, president and founder of Holston. The system displays the patients' blood sugar, blood pressure, thyroid levels, and other indicators that could warn of an impending complication.