Older adults on Medicare expect to receive the best quality medical care. Unfortunately, some Illinois doctors and other health care professionals make mistakes during treatment. Many of these are considered “never events.”

What are never events?

A never event is a medical mistake that occurs but should have been avoidable. When a doctor or other medical professional commit a medical error that should never have happened, it’s considered a never event. It can also be considered medical malpractice.

What are the most common never events identified by Medicare?

The Hospital-Acquired Condition (HAC) Reduction Program is the never events policy that results in a patient making a reduced payment if a never event affects them. Never events are considered situations patients suffer while in the hospital for a procedure or treatment. They may include falls resulting in injuries, blood transfusions involving blood of the wrong type, bedsores, cather-caused urinary tract infections and central-line infections of the bloodstream.

According to a study featured in the Journal of American Medical Association from 2015, Medicare’s goal with HAC has been effective in reducing the number of never events that occur in hospitals. Although the program aims to reduce the patient’s financial obligation for care needed when a never event occurs, it has also worked at reducing the number of never events taking place. The researchers involved in the study noted that bloodstream infections decreased by 11% and that urinary tract infections reduced by 10%.

When the Affordable Care Act passed, there were even fewer of these medical negligence incidents. The HAC program continues to monitor never events, noting that hospitals that treat certain populations are more susceptible to them happening. Lower income patients are found to be most affected by the problem.

Never events are the type of medical errors that can be avoided, but more work needs to be done to protect patients.

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