What are “never events” for skilled nursing facilities and nursing homes?

June 5, 2019

The term “never event” was introduced into the medical vernacular nearly 20 years ago. In the time since its introduction and the first list of “never events” was introduced, the meaning has been modified and expanded, and overall public awareness has increased while fatal errors to patients have decreased.

But skilled nursing facilities still have a ways to go within their safety culture in preventing never events, according to statistics from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). CMS defines “never events” as serious and costly errors in the provision of health care services that should never happen when following proper safety guidelines.

In February 2014, CMS reported that one in every three patients or residents at a skilled nursing facility “were harmed by an adverse event or temporary harm event within the first 35 days of their skilled stay.” The report determined that nearly 60 percent of those events were preventable. The reasons vary, from a lack of proper training to lack of adequate staffing, but, as the name implies, “never events” should never happen when proper safety guidelines are followed.

What types of “never events” occur in skilled nursing facilities

The CMS list of 28 categorized “never events” accounted for $4.5 billion in annual Medicare charges.

Some examples of potentially preventable never events, in the context of a skilled nursing facility, include:

  • Falls, abrasions, skin tears or other trauma related to care
  • Respiratory distress, such as an issue with a breathing tube
  • Elopement, such as an individual known to have dementia wandering away and nursing staff are unable to locate them
  • Skin wounds and infections, such as bed sores or ulcers

In 2008, CMS updated its policy to no longer reimburse health care providers — hospitals and nursing facilities alike — when they commit certain medical errors deemed preventable. As part of the effort to improve patient safety, when a never event occurs, the event is reported so that the public is made of aware of the preventable, and sometimes fatal, mistake.

How can a nursing home neglect attorney help?

Overall, the goal of implementing never events is to improve patient care. But when you or a loved one have suffered injury or wrongful death because of a never event at a skilled nursing facility or nursing home, contact the experienced nursing home negligence attorneys at Lowe Scott Fisher Co., LPA, for an initial free consultation to discuss your options.

Representing victims and their families throughout Ohio, our nursing home negligence lawyers will investigate the claim and hold the appropriate parties responsible for their actions.

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