Writing in The Conversation today, Joseph Ibrahim and John McNeil (Monash University) discuss the financial implications for hospitals following certain serious errors, as planned to come into effect in July 2017.

Australian public hospitals will soon be penalised for serious errors, with the aim of improving the quality and safety of health services. The punitive measure was a core proposal in the pricing framework for Australian public hospital services presented to the Health Council of COAG (Council of Australian Governments) in March 2017.

Withdrawing funding for serious errors, known a “sentinel events”, was advised by the Independent Hospital Pricing Authority (IHPA) and will come into force in July 2017. Australia has eight nationally agreed sentinel events.

These include: “procedures involving the wrong patient or body part resulting in death or major permanent loss of function” and an “infant [being] discharged to the wrong family”. Such events are clear and unambiguous errors, which can be prevented.

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