Protecting the Individual and Facility by Preventing ‘Never Events’

This week is “National Patient Safety Awareness Week”, and the ideal time to reflect on the risks to patients and senior living care residents in healthcare facilities across the country. While we may never be able to stop all medical errors and healthcare-associated infections, or prevent all accidents, there is still much that can be be done to improve patient safety.

It’s been over 13 years since the term “never event” was coined by Dr. Ken Kizer, the former CEO of the National Quality Forum (NQF), and since that time, the list has grown to include 29 distinct events across 6 categories: surgical, product or device, patient protection, care management, environmental, radiologic, and criminal. The events are clearly identifiable, preventable and serious in their health and safety consequences.

The impacts on an individual of a never event are very serious. But the consequences to a facility are dire as well: the legal liability, loss of reputation, costs due to unreimbursed expenses, negative impact on staff morale, and much more. Beginning in 2008, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that Medicare will no longer pay for the treatment of certain preventable errors. And financial accountability continues to grow. For example, in July 2014, a Massachusetts jury awarded $14 million to the family of a nursing home resident who died due to a pressure ulcer and other signs of negligent care.

Today’s healthcare facilities face a never-ending sea of options in regards to technology, and many have made significant investments in the past decade to deploy electronic medical records and other improvements to their IT infrastructure. But the pace of advancement is not slowing and as continued cost pressures impact health systems and senior living facilities, administrators must explore new ways to reduce costs, while improving both efficiency and the quality of care. The prevalence of some never events may be addressed through improved workflow processes or facility maintenance, for example. Others may benefit from the latest technology, including:

  • Fall monitors as part of a fall prevention initiative
  • Patient monitoring solutions to ensure turn compliance for pressure ulcer reduction
  • Enhanced infection control and hand hygiene compliance programs
  • Security solutions to prevent patient elopement
  • Infant protection systems to prevent the abduction of an infant from a facility

STANLEY Healthcare is proud to be innovating in many ways to reduce never events, and we invite you to learn more about how technology can reduce the risk to both your organization and to your patients and residents.