Hospital Errors to be Reported; Hospitals Prohibited from Charging for Certain Errors
New Jersey recently passed a bill aimed at improving healthcare and patient’s rights. Entitled “An Act Concerning Patient Safety,” the measure requires the Department of Health and Human Services to be notified of certain patient safety “indicators” (or possible mistakes or errors) that occur at each hospital in the state, and, which further prohibits hospitals from charging for certain medical errors.
For example, hospitals will be required to report to the Department of Health and Human Services the following “indicators” when they occur:
- When a foreign body is left in a patient during a procedure;
- When a pneumothorax is caused by a surgical procedure;
- When there is a post-operative hip fracture:
- When there is a post-operative hemorrhage or hematoma;
- When there is a post-operative pulmonary embolism or deep vein thrombosis;
- When there is post-operative sepsis (or systemic infection);
- When there is post-operative wound dehiscence;
- When there is an accidental puncture or laceration;
- When there is a transfusion reaction;
- When there is birth trauma, such as a subgaleal bleed, erb’s palsy or other traumatic injury to a newborn;
- When there is a traumatic vaginal delivery following use of a forceps or vacuum extractor;
- When there is a traumatic vaginal delivery without use of a forceps or vacuum extractor;
- When there is an air embolism; and
- When there is surgery on the wrong side of the body, wrong body part, wrong person, or, when the wrong surgery is performed on a patient.
In the event of an air embolism, foreign body left during a procedure, surgery on the wrong side, surgery on the wrong body part or wrong person, and, surgery performed on the wrong patient, the hospital may not bill for treatment. This will prevent hospitals from becoming unjustly enriched by errors committed by hospital staff, and, will hopefully encourage New Jersey hospitals to develop better policies to decrease the likelihood of the most egregious errors from occurring.