Hospitals to lose Medicaid payments for errors

Utah will no longer give its hospitals Medicaid payments for treating illnesses caused by avoidable errors and infections, but concrete data regarding such events remains sketchy at best, reported The Salt Lake City Tribune.

To date, the state's hospitals have reported only 17 such events to state regulators since disclosures became mandatory since June 2011 as part of the Affordable Care Act. Most of those events have been hospital-acquired infections, according to the newspaper, but could include wrong-site surgery and avoidable falls.

Although states such as California post involved reports of medical errors for consumers and journalists to access, records in Utah are kept confidential, according to the Tribune.

"This is a very new data collection process and not everybody has been reporting. It's a work-in-process kind of thing," Rod Betit, executive director of the Utah Hospital Association, told the newspaper.

"We had to agree upon which events to report, and how to define them. We need to have a baseline before releasing information showing what progress is being made, or not being made, at various facilities," he said.

Given the scant information available and Utah sitting on the fence regarding Medicaid expansion, it remains to be seen how such penalties would affect providers. Utah is one of nation's reddest states, and its lawmakers have suggested it would opt out of the ACA's expansion of Medicaid. Utah Gov. Gary Herbert prefers block grants for Medicaid because it would give the state more flexibility, reported the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

To learn more:
- read the Salt Lake City Tribune article
- here's the Atlanta-Journal Constitution article
- visit the California Department of Public Health medical error website