Patient Safety at HMSA
At HMSA, we want to help keep our members safe and protected. That’s why we’ve incorporated
a number of standards and procedures to reward quality health care and keep medical
Why is Patient Safety So Important?
Since patient safety was first brought to light in the 1990s, studies have shown
a staggering number of patients harmed by preventable medical errors. These errors
include systems failures, human factors, complicated technologies, powerful drugs,
prolonged hospital stays, and cost-cutting measures, to name a few. Medical errors
can cause serious injury or death and result in billions of dollars in excess health
care costs nationwide each year. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that
one out of every 10 patients worldwide is impacted by these errors.
What is HMSA Doing to Help Ensure Patient Safety?
HMSA has established a patient safety committee to work on new and existing patient
safety initiatives. We’ve highlighted just a few of them below:
Surgical Safety Checklist
In an effort to help improve the safety of surgery patients around the world, the
WHO developed the Safe Surgery Saves Lives Checklist in 2008. With the input of
worldwide medical professionals, the 19-point checklist for surgeons was developed
and piloted in hospitals in eight cities. Deaths and complications dropped by about
one-third in the participating hospitals.
In response to the success of the WHO pilot program, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield
Association (BCBSA) adopted the Blue Surgical Safety Checklist and
is encouraging participating hospitals nationwide to use it. HMSA is supporting
this effort by urging hospitals in Hawaii to adopt the checklist and by sharing
it with members and urging them to discuss it with their surgeon.
Currently, hospitals in Hawaii are beginning
to pledge to adopt the WHO or BCBSA checklist.
Never Events and Hospital-Acquired Conditions
HMSA recently adopted the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) ’Never
Events’ program. Never Events are defined as adverse events or errors in medical
care that are clearly identifiable, preventable, and serious in their consequences
for patients. The program focuses on improving quality by avoiding preventable situations
with adverse outcomes in hospitals. Under this policy, providers and/or hospitals
will no longer be reimbursed for certain preventable errors occurring after a patient’s
admission to a hospital that lead to death, disability or unnecessary
costs. HMSA is following CMS’ lead and aligning its payment policy to be consistent
As of Jan. 1, 2010, HMSA will not reimburse providers of HMSA members for CMS’ 15
identified Never Events and Hospital-Acquired Conditions. (Note: this program doesn’t
apply to The HMSA Plan for QUEST Members.) These include surgery on the wrong patient,
surgery on the wrong body part, wrong surgical procedure on a patient, foreign object
left in patient, and patient death or serious disability due to incompatible blood
or blood products.
On the CUSP: STOP BSI
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are about 80,000
episodes of bloodstream infections due to central-line catheters each year in the
United States, and more than half of them are preventable.
HMSA is providing funding and support for Hawaii to participate in a national effort
to eliminate deadly catheter-related bloodstream infections in hospitals. ’Stop
Bloodstream Infections,’ an initiative developed by the Johns Hopkins University
Quality and Safety Research Group, has generated significant results nationwide.
Since Hawaii was accepted to participate in the collaboration, HMSA has been working
with all 17 hospitals with intensive-care units in Hawaii to reduce deadly infections
related to the use of catheters. There has been a decline in the number of catheter-related
bloodstream infections in Hawaii’s hospitals since this campaign began.
In addition to reducing bloodstream infections, this program promotes a culture
of safety that can be expanded to other hospital-improvement programs.
Working for You
At HMSA, patient safety is a top priority; we’re excited to offer these additional
safeguards to our members. We hope this added protection will help keep you and
your family feeling safe and secure with your health care needs and help foster
HMSA’s goal of working for a healthier Hawaii