The decision to move an elderly loved one into a nursing home is not an easy one for families in Louisiana. As a disease, chronic condition, or cognitive decline affects their capacity to take care of themselves, it can become critical to make sure that they receive the care that they deserve.
Unfortunately, not all long-term care facilities are the same, and unfortunately, some rely on a reputation for a standard of care of the residents that they may not deserve. The harm that can result from medication errors and other negligent actions on the part of medical professionals or staff can lead to severe injury or even death to an elderly patient.
For residents of Natchitoches and surrounding areas whose loved one may be in trouble, it is essential to have the legal resources to hold accountable those who are responsible for the damage done.
What is a “never event”?
Some time ago, the medical community came together to examine the persistence of preventable adverse events that could potentially lead to an unacceptably lower standard of care across the profession. Popularly know as “never events”, these occurrences could include obvious unacceptable errors, such as performing a surgery on the wrong patient or on the wrong area. But they also included a wide range of preventable behaviors or treatments leading to negligent harm.
As a result, the National Quality Forum (NQF) identified 28 never events with the intent to reduce the frequency of these occurrences to zero through a cycle of reporting and intervention. The list of these serious reportable events occurring at the facility includes death or serious injury:
- from contaminated drugs or devices
- due to intravascular air embolism
- medication error
- physical assault
- the use of restraints
- a fall
Is there governmental oversight for this problem?
A government report on adverse events stated that one-third of all Medicare recipients had experienced injury or harm within the first 35 days of admittance into a nursing home facility, and that 60% of these events were preventable. The main source of preventable harm was due to medication errors, especially medication-induced hemorrhaging from anticoagulant use.
The records compiled by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) make information and resources available to providers who are investigating serious reportable events that occur in long-term care facilities. The CMS has also established a non-reimbursement policy for such occurrences, which penalizes facilities that underperform in quality of care to their residents.
While these measures are reassuring, it cannot replace the vigilance and oversight of concerned family members who want to ensure that their loved one is safe.