October 2000 AAOS Report
AAOS adopts positions on prompt pay, 'errors,' safe return to work
The AAOS board of directors adopted a position statement on Prompt Payment of Physician Claims at its meeting on Sept. 8, 2000 in Rosemont, Ill. The AAOS supports prompt payment of uncontested claims by government agencies, insurance companies and managed care plans within a 30-day time period. The AAOS also supports the prompt payment of any part of a claim that is complete and undisputed. The statement urges state legislatures and insurance commissions to enact or strengthen prompt payment regulations. These regulations should address standards for claims processing and management. The AAOS also recommends sanctions against carriers who fail to practice these policies and says insurance commissioners should be held accountable for enforcement of defined standards.
A second position statement approved by the board supports safe early return to work programs that help injured workers improve their performance, become functional and enhance their quality of life. The statement observes that "studies have demonstrated that prolonged time away from work makes recovery and return to work progressively less likely. Return to work in light duty, part-time or modified duty programs is important in preventing the deconditioning and psychological behavior patterns that inhibit successful return to work and in improving quality of life for the injured worker."
A third position statement on "Medical Error/Patient Safety Reporting Systems" presents four principles essential to ensure the success of a nationwide effort to reduce the number of medical errors. The principles are:
- Public and private initiatives to ensure patient safety and reduce the number of medical errors should be encouraged through a nonpunitive, cooperative environment.
- Ensuring patient confidentiality and appropriate legal protection of all information involved in patient safety reporting systems are critical.
- Patient access to their medical records should not be jeopardized by new initiatives.
- Before instituting new reporting systems, federal and state governments should first determine, through supporting research, whether and how existing reporting programs as well as public and private initiatives have led to a reduction in medical errors.