TEXT OF STORY
Scott Jagow: The health insurance company Wellpoint has announced its new strategy for discouraging medical errors. It says it will no longer reimburse hospitals for botched operations. Ashley Milne-Tyte reports.
Ashley Milne-Tyte The medical community refers to big mistakes as “never events” — things hospital staff hope will never happen. Sam Nussbaum is chief medical officer for Wellpoint.
Sam Nussbaum: We will not be paying for surgery performed on the wrong body part, surgery performed on the wrong patient, nor the wrong surgery performed on a patient.
Later this year, Wellpoint plans to stop reimbursement for other things, such as hospital-acquired infections. Nussbaum says WellPoint wants hospitals to invest in better strategies to prevent errors. Atul Gawande is a surgeon at Brigham and Women’s hospital in Boston. He says no one should have to pay for a botched operation. But he says some hospital infections are avoidable, others aren’t.
Atul Gawande: And trying to sort out which are the right ones and then how much of the hospitalization was due to that infection, no one’s quite figured out how to do that in a fair way.
Still, Gawande says, hospitals should brace themselves, because other health insurers are bound to follow suit.
I’m Ashley Milne-Tyte for Marketplace.
There’s a lot happening in the world. Through it all, Marketplace is here for you.
You rely on Marketplace to break down the world’s events and tell you how it affects you in a fact-based, approachable way. We rely on your financial support to keep making that possible.
Your donation today powers the independent journalism that you rely on. For just $5/month, you can help sustain Marketplace so we can keep reporting on the things that matter to you.