How A Robust Never Events Policy Can Alter Your Facility’s Culture

Think fast: Does your hospital have a “never events” policy? Does it include apologizing to the patients that were harmed and waiving their costs? Does it include a risk assessment?

If you answered “no” to any of those questions, you are one of the 20% of hospitals across the country that don’t have an adequate never events policy, according to a recent survey published by The Leapfrog Group, which raises serious patient safety concerns according to Jillian West, the senior communications and membership coordinator at The Leapfrog Group in Washington, D.C.

“For one out of five hospitals not to have a policy like this is baffling,” she says. “It really is.”

According to The Leapfrog Group, “a policy like this” should include five basic elements:

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

“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, in a release. “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% of hospitals with the Leapfrog policy.”

How a robust never events policy can alter your facility’s culture

Eighty percent of respondents to Leapfrog’s survey met the above requirements in 2015, a significant increase from 53.2% in 2007, when the organization released its initial survey, but a negligible increase from 79.4% reported in 2012.

“In the last few years, [the prevalence of never events policies] has plateaued,” West says. “We really need to revisit this issue and get purchasers and providers engaged in it again because we need another push around it.”

This is an excerpt from Patient Safety Monitor Journal. Subscribers can read the full article here. Find out more about the journal, its benefits, and how to subscribe by clicking here.