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August 2009

Aetna Tightens Programs Regarding Serious Reportable Adverse Events

32141354 Building on its past efforts and those of other public and private health insurance organizations, Aetna announced today that it is taking several steps to strengthen its patient safety programs.

For patient members, Aetna is providing information on its member Web site about how patients can protect themselves from medical mistakes.  Public information with this type of advice is available from the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, which came out with a tip sheet shortly after the publication of the Institute of Medicine's report To Err is Human in 1999. 

Aetna will also require that facilities, physicians and other health care professionals waive charges for care during which the wrong surgery is performed, surgery occurs on the wrong person or on the wrong body part or side of the patient's body, as well as for eight other serious reportable adverse events (also known as "never events").

To encourage hospitals to learn from such mistakes, Aetna also requires that when a serious reportable adverse event happens to an Aetna member, hospitals must:

  • Alert Aetna and either The Joint Commission, a state reporting program, or patient safety organization;
  • Analyze why the event occurred and how to improve processes in the future to keep such an event from happening again; and, 
  • Communicate with the patient or patient's family about the event.

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