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Michael J. Duber and Brandon T. Duber

What are ‘never events’ in nursing homes?

Oct 19, 2021 |

A number of years ago, there was a consensus in the medical community on the need for public disclosure around certain adverse events or procedures that should simply never happen in the profession. Called ‘never events’, these errors in procedure or judgement could justifiably lead to claims for medical malpractice, further discouraging medical professionals from making such grave errors.

The National Quality Forum created a list of 27 never events that would highlight not only obvious unacceptable errors, but also emphasize events that are not always preventable or clearly negligent in order to reduce the overall incidence of such practices. Some of these serious reportable events include:

  • Performing surgery on the wrong patient
  • Performing the wrong procedure
  • Leaving a foreign object in the patient after surgery
  • Discharging an infant to the wrong person
  • Patient disability, death, or suicide due to medical or medication errors, reactions to medications, electric shock, burns, the use of restraints, bedrails, sexual or physical assault by staff, or other traumas while in a healthcare facility

Which of these adverse events occur in nursing homes?

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) implemented a non-reimbursement policy to motivate healthcare facilities to improve the quality care of their patients, by disallowing the reimbursement of fees to Medicare for adverse events and complications. CMS also has since compiled comprehensive information and resource records to help providers investigate adverse events that have occurred in nursing home facilities.

A report released by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) on adverse events in nursing facilities found that one in three Medicare recipients were injured or harmed within the first 35 days of their stay in a skilled nursing facility. The OIG also found that almost 60% of those events were preventable.

The primary adverse events were related to medication errors. The second highest cause of medication-induced adverse events was excessive bleeding from anticoagulant use. The severity of these events in healthcare facilities caused harm ranging from hospitalization to death to residents.

What happens when an elderly loved is a victim of a never event?

Families in Ohio and elsewhere rely on the information and reputation of the nursing home facilities that they research when deciding on the best options for the care of their elderly loved ones. When the negligent or abusive actions of nursing home staff or medical professionals result in harm to an elderly patient, it is important for residents of Cleveland and surrounding areas to have the resources necessary to pursue a claim that will hold responsible parties accountable.