Addressing the pain and expense of never events

By Valerie J. Dimond – July 22, 201814969

Never events — serious, preventable medical errors that leave patients with debilitating injuries, life-threatening infections and worse — are considered mostly rare occurrences. But they still happen. Just over 20 percent of Americans surveyed last September by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement reported personal experience with a medical error and 31 percent said they were closely involved in the care of a patient who experienced an error. In addition, more than eight in 10 people believe patient safety is mainly the responsibility of healthcare providers, hospital leaders and administrators. When asked what caused the medical error they experienced, people identified, on average, at least seven different factors1 (see sidebar “Avoiding common medical errors in the OR” at www.hpnonline.com/avoiding-common-medical-errors).

Depending on whom you ask, or which reports reach your desk, it can be difficult to determine whether some healthcare facilities are marching toward reform or merely jogging in place. For instance, according to new Leapfrog research, one in five hospitals today do not have an established “Never Event” policy in position.

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