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How Maryland is bringing down hospital negligence statewide

Patients everywhere, including Maryland, expect that if they undergo a surgical or medical procedure, their health condition, illness or injury will improve. Regardless of a patient's condition, the top priority of all medical professionals is to ensure the patient is safe and never suffers harm while in their care. In keeping with the policy that the patient comes first and that hospital negligence should never happen, Maryland has come up with a system to help health-care facilities cut down errors.

To reduce medication errors, several agencies regulate hospitals in Maryland. The Health Care Commission regulates the certificate of need (CON) program. The Office of Health Care Quality within the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene oversees licensing requirements. The amount that Maryland hospitals can charge is regulated by the Health Services Cost Review Commission (HSCRC). Since its founding in 1974, the HSCRC has saved Maryland some $1.3 billion in hospital costs, in part because of a waiver from the federal Medicare system that allows the state to set payment rates.

The CON program ensures that health-care services are developed as required. The Health Care Commission takes into consideration several factors such as geographical and financial access to hospital care and the quality and cost-effectiveness of care. Medication errors have been reduced as a result of these regulations.

Various health-care providers come under the purview of the CON program, including general hospitals responsible for acute care; specified services such as pediatrics, obstetrics and psychiatry; and specialized hospitals that undertake rehabilitation, psychiatric and chronic treatments. CON's approval is mandatory to set up a new health-care facility or to shift a facility to another site.

CON approval is also required if a hospital's bed capacity changes or the scope of a particular service changes. All these are expected to bring down instances of hospital negligence.

Source: Maryland Health Care Commission, "Overview of Maryland Regulatory System for Hospital Oversight," Accessed on Dec. 3, 2014

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