Doctors and other medical professionals enter the field of medicine for the purpose of preserving life and providing care that is consistent with a professional standard. The medical community has periodically reviewed the incidence of adverse events that occur so as to provide public disclosure and discourage medical professionals from making grave errors that should never have occurred.
Called “never events”, these errors of procedure or judgement are especially prevalent among the elderly who are in nursing facilities. With the aim at reducing the incidence of unacceptable errors that lead to medical malpractice negligence claims, the National Quality Forum (NQF) created a list of serious reportable events, such as:
- Patient disability, death, or suicide due to medical or medication errors
- Reactions to medications, wrong prescription, or incorrect dosage
- Electric shock or burns
- The use of restraints or bedrails
- Sexual or physical assault by staff
- Patient death or disability from a fall
Adverse events in nursing homes
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has implemented a non-reimbursement policy as an incentive for healthcare facilities to improve their quality of care to patients, by disallowing the reimbursement of fees to Medicare where there is evidence of adverse events. CMS has also compiled comprehensive information that helps providers to investigate adverse events taking place in long-term care facilities.
A report on adverse events in nursing homes found that one third of all Medicare recipients had been injured or harmed within the first 35 days of their stay in such a facility, and that close to 60% of these events were preventable. The top two adverse events were:
- Medication errors.
- Medication-induced adverse events causing excessive bleeding from anticoagulant use.
The effect of these preventable events caused harm to residents ranging from hospitalizations to death.
Taking steps to prevent a loved one from harm
Families in New York and around the country rely on the reputation of nursing home facilities in their area when making decisions about the quality of care their elderly loved one receives. While the information and research they obtain when choosing the best facility can point them in the right direction, it is also important to have the resources necessary to pursue a claim should something happen. Residents of Albany and surrounding communities should know where to turn to hold responsible parties accountable for negligence or abuse.