20% of hospitals don't have a policy to handle 'never events'

Hospitals that have a policy to follow if or when a "never event" occurs demonstrate both accountability to their patients and dedication to continuous improvement. Unfortunately, one in five hospitals has not adopted such a policy, according to a new report from The Leapfrog Group and Castlight Health.

To meet Leapfrog's standard for an adequate never events policy, the policy must require the hospital to:

  • Apologize to the patient and/or family
  • Report the incident to an outside agency within 10 days
  • Perform a root-cause analysis
  • Waive costs related to the never event
  • Make a policy available to patients, family members and payers upon request

Leapfrog added questions about organizations' never event policies to its Hospital Survey in 2007. Highlighted below are five survey results pertinent to never event policies, as gathered from the 2015 survey.

1. Never event policy adoption increased from 53 percent in 2007, when Leapfrog added "Never Events Management" to its hospital survey, to 79 percent in 2012. Since 2012, however, progress has basically stalled.

2. In 2015, 80 percent of the hospitals met Leapfrog's standard for a never event policy. Although that represents a majority of the hospitals surveyed, that still means 20 percent have failed to adopt an adequate policy.

3. Never event policy adoption varies from state to state. For instance, 100 percent of the reporting hospitals in Maine, Massachusetts and Washington met Leapfrog's standard.

4. Eight states — California, Indiana, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Utah— had at least 90 percent of hospitals meeting the standard.

5. In seven states, fewer than 60 percent of hospitals met the standard and, in Arizona, only 10 percent of reporting hospitals had an adequate policy.

"Never events are egregious and they truly should never happen, but at the very least if they do happen, we expect hospitals to take the most humane and ethical approach," said Leah Binder, president and CEO of Leapfrog. "Unfortunately, many hospitals still won't commit to doing the right thing, including apologizing to the patient or family and not charging for the event. We should see 100 percent of hospitals with the Leapfrog policy."

To read the full report on never events policy adoption, click here.



More articles on never events:
New Hampshire hospitals report more 'never events'
Time out: Health system in Iowa has 4 wrong-site surgeries in 40 days
How to eliminate 'never events': 5 takeaways about EHR design, use error and patient harm

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