Medicare proposes non-payment policy for surgical errors

CMS this week proposed national coverage determinations (NCDs) for three preventable errors—surgery on the wrong body part, surgery on the wrong patient, and wrong surgery performed on a patient. These NCDs would stop Medicare payment for such events. The errors are among the 28 Serious Reportable Events, or “never events,” identified by the National Quality Forum and can result in serious injury or death, said CMS Acting Administrator Kerry Weems, although they tend to be rare.


The proposed NCDs are open for public comment until Jan. 1, 2009, and can be accessed at, with CMS expected to issue final NCDs by March 1 (CMS release, 12/2; NCD proposal, accessed 12/3).


(SOURCE: AHA News Now,, December 3, 2008; CMS website release, December 2, 2008)