Never Events: Future Roosting Chickens Leave Home
Where Medicare goes wrong, however, is by extending the no-pay rules to include “reasonably preventable” complications. These currently include patient falls and hospital-acquired infections. Temporary changes in mental status, known as delirium, also will be added this year.
Despite impeccable care, some hospital complications cannot be prevented. For example:
• No studies exist that show how infections can be cut to zero.
• The government acknowledges that there are few effective guidelines to reliably halt the onset of delirium.
• The AARP reports that one in three seniors older than 65 falls each year.
Penalizing hospitals for events that cannot be prevented is counterproductive and leads to unintended consequences, including driving up the cost of care by exposing patients to more testing, thereby decreasing access to medical care.
America is simply going to have to learn about the futility of this the hard way. We’re going to have to wait until the costs go up and the real world outcomes don’t improve before the whole never event idea gets scaled back to genuinely preventable and inexcusable medical errors.
But don’t worry, never event advocates. We’re keeping track of who is supporting this idiocy. And when those chickens do come home to roost, we’ll be sure to remind you that we told you so. Loudly. And repeatedly.