June 13, 2016

Never Again

They’re called Never Events, and that’s exactly what their name denotes - situations in patient care that should never occur in a medical facility.

On its website, the National Quality Forum (NHQ), a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to improving the quality and value of health care, identifies 29 Never Events, divided into seven categories: surgical and invasive procedures, products and devices, patient protection, care management, environmental, radiologic, and potentially criminal.

With electronic medical records, better self-reporting and increased oversight, medical personnel and facilities are working daily to prevent Never Events. Patients might see evidence of this when each new member of a medical team confirms with them such things as their date of birth, area to be operated on, allergies to medications, etc. Repeated checks of seemingly mundane matters may feel annoying, but they are in place for your protection, to ensure you receive the right care.

Public reporting of data spurs doctors, nurses, clinics and hospitals to be vigilant in their care. The growing volume and accuracy of data, by groups such as the Wisconsin Health Information Organization (WHIO), help identify areas for improvement and help patients and their families seek out the best health care. For example, WHIO data can pinpoint the number of post-operative infections within a given period of time and where they occur; thus, helping hospitals identify areas for improvement. In addition, seeing how their hospital measure up against other facilities in the state may inspire a race to the top that improves health care for all.

Patients and their families can play an active role in preventing Never Events and improving health care in Wisconsin. Be mindful of Never Events and hold your medical team accountable for avoiding them. At your clinic or hospital, don’t be afraid to ask why you’re taking a particular medication or undergoing a particular test or procedure. Ask whether there are alternatives and, if so, why this course of treatment is preferred. Remind doctors and nurses of any allergies you may have or other medications you’re taking, if they don’t have that information on hand. Speak up if you feel a dosage amount should be confirmed before you take it, or a procedure confirmed before you undergo it.

The website MyHealthWI.org, powered by WHIO offers tips on things patient’s can do to get the best care.

Protect yourself, your family and friends by playing your part to see that, when it comes to Never Events, never really does mean never.