Medical Staff

Hospitalist Program Weekly

Hospitalist Leadership Connection, August 2, 2006

1. IOM: 1.5 million medication errors per year

The Institute of Medicine's (IOM) latest report on patient safety claims there are more than 1.5 million preventable medication errors per year in American hospitals. The vast majority of these errors do not result in significant patient harm, but on average, there's an error for every patient in the hospital every day, according to an IOM release.

To combat the problem, the IOM has made several recommendations, including:

Of the errors calculated, about 400,000 occur in the hospital setting. The mistakes cost hospitals about $3.5 billion annually, according to the report.

To read the announcement of the report, click here. To read the executive summary of the report, click here.

2. Billing for time spent counseling patients

When many MDs see a patient for counseling and do not perform an exam (or perform a limited exam and do not take a history), they frequently make the mistakes of not billing for the encounter at all or bill for too low a level of service, according to a column in the July issue of Today's Hospitalist.

According to the column, however, if the physician spends more than 50% of the patient visit on counseling, he or she can safely bill for that time.

The reason, according to the column: "Payers don't generally allow [physicians] to count time as a factor in choosing a level of service. When counseling dominates the time [the physician has] spent with the patient, however, [he or she] can do just that, and bill based on the duration of the visit."

The column also stresses that physicians must demonstrate that more than 50% of his or her time was spent on counseling, and outlines various methods for accomplishing this.

To read the complete column, click here.

3. Hospitalists in British Columbia sign deal on pay, workload

Hospitalists in British Columbia lobbying to win recognition for the increasing number of services they provide in the province's hospitals reached a pay agreement with regional and provincial health officials, securing the hospitalists an hourly rate of $111 (Canadian dollars), according to a July 18 article in The Medical Post.

As part of the deal, hospitalists will receive annual increases of 2.85% as of April 1, 2006 (retroactive); 2% in April 2007; 2% in April 2008; and 3% in April 2009.

According to the article, the hospitalists also will receive additional pay allotments as part of ongoing negotiations over $8 million (Canadian dollars) in targeted funds set aside in the general agreement. A committee representing the British Columbia Medical Association, the health authorities, and the ministry of health will decide how the money will be allotted to physicians in the near future.

To read the full story, click here.

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