From the Fall 2016 issue of For Your Benefit pdf format of Fall 2016 issue of For Your Benefit

Does Your Hospital Have a Never Event Policy in Place?

Objects left inside patients after surgery; deaths from medication errors; deaths or serious injuries from falls; surgeries performed on the wrong parts of patients’ bodies – these horrors do occur.  A total of 29 types of egregious events have been identified by the National Quality Forum.  The Leapfrog Group, a national, independent not-for-profit organization of employer purchasers of health care (including the GIC), and the nation’s leading experts on patient safety, began in 2007 asking hospitals to report on best practices for Never Events.  Does the hospital:

Apologize to the patient and/or family if a Never Event occurs? Doing so improves communication and trust between the patient and hospital and reduces malpractice suits.

Report the event to an outside agency, such as the Joint Commission or a state reporting program within 10 days of becoming aware of the event?

Perform a root-cause analysis?  Hospitals should formally investigate what went wrong and identify the cause of the error to prevent future occurrences.

Waive costs related to the event? The patient and the payer should not be billed for any costs attributable to the error.

Make available their Never Event policy? Patients, patients’ families, and payers should all be able to obtain the policy upon request.

The good news for Massachusetts residents is that your hospital is more likely to have a Never Event management policy than elsewhere in the country.  Of the hospitals that have reported their policy, 100% of Massachusetts hospitals meet the above standards. 

Of concern, nine Massachusetts hospitals have declined to report, so it’s unclear whether or not they have a policy or are doing anything to address Never Events.  Always research your hospital options.  Find out whether your hospital is taking action to address Never Events by searching on the Leapfrog Group’s website.

This information provided by the Group Insurance Commission.