Hospitals should prepare to face greater scrutiny from the Centers From Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) of the adequacy of their patient harm incident reporting.
CMS reportedly is preparing standards for its surveyors to use to assess the quality for hospital safety reporting in response to an Office of Inspector General (OIG) a report highly critical of the adequacy of hospital patient harm incident reporting systems. See Report here.
As a condition of participation in the Medicare program, Federal regulations require that hospitals develop and maintain a Quality Assessment and Performance Improvement (QAPI) program. To satisfy QAPI requirements, hospitals must “track medical errors and adverse patient events, analyze their causes, and carry out preventive actions and mechanisms that include feedback and learning throughout the hospital.” To standardize hospital event reporting, AHRQ developed a set of event definitions and incident reporting tools known as the Common Formats.
According to the OIG Report, hospital incident reporting systems captured only an estimated 14 percent of the patient harm events experienced by Medicare beneficiaries. The Report found hospitals investigated those reported events that they considered most likely to lead to quality and safety improvements and made few policy or practice changes as a result of reported events. Hospital administrators classified the remaining events (86 percent) as either events that staff did not perceive as reportable (61 percent) or as events that staff commonly report but did not report in this case (25 percent).
Because hospitals rely on incident reporting systems to track and analyze events, OIG believes that improving the usefulness of these systems is critical to hospitals’ efforts to improve patient safety.
Based upon concerns about the adequacy in hospital incident reporting in the Report, OIG is recommending various steps be taken to improve the quality of hospital incident reporting. Among other things, OIG is recommending that:
- AHRQ and CMS collaborate to create and promote a list of potentially reportable events for hospitals to use;
- CMS provide guidance to accreditors regarding their assessments of hospital efforts to track and analyze events;
- CMS suggest that surveyors evaluate the information collected by hospitals using AHRQ’s Common Formats
- CMS scrutinize survey standards for assessing hospital compliance with the requirement to track and analyze events and reinforce assessment of incident reporting systems as a key tool to improve event tracking.
According to OIG, CMS has responded that it is developing draft guidance for surveyors regarding assessment of patient safety improvement efforts within hospitals as part of its continuing quality inititives. Hospitals participating in the Medicare program can anticipate tighter oversight of the adequacy of their incident reporting will be forthcoming.
For More Information Or Assistance
If you need help reviewing or responding to health care related policy, risk management, compliance, enforcement or management concerns, the author of this update, attorney Cynthia Marcotte Stamer, may be able to help. Vice President of the North Texas Health Care Compliance Professionals Association, Past Chair of the ABA Health Law Section Managed Care & Insurance Section and the former Board Compliance Chair of the National Kidney Foundation of North Texas, Ms. Stamer has more than 24 years experience advising health industry clients about these and other matters. Her experience includes advising hospitals, nursing home, home health, rehabilitation and other health care providers and health industry clients to establish and administer compliance and risk management policies; prevent, conduct and investigate, and respond to peer review and other quality concerns; and to respond to Board of Medicine, Department of Aging & Disability, Drug Enforcement Agency, OCR Privacy and Civil Rights, HHS, DOD and other health care industry investigation, enforcement and other compliance, public policy, regulatory, staffing, and other operations and risk management concerns.
A popular lecturer and widely published author on health industry concerns, Ms. Stamer continuously advises health industry clients about compliance and internal controls, workforce and medical staff performance, quality, governance, reimbursement, and other risk management and operational matters. Ms. Stamer also publishes and speaks extensively on health and managed care industry regulatory, staffing and human resources, compensation and benefits, technology, public policy, reimbursement and other operations and risk management concerns. Her presentations and programs include How to Ensure That Your Organization Is In Compliance With Regulations Governing Discrimination, as well as a wide range of other workshops, programs and publications on discrimination and cultural diversity, as well as a broad range of compliance, operational and risk management, and other health industry matters.
Her insights on these and other related matters appear in the Health Care Compliance Association, Atlantic Information Service, Bureau of National Affairs, The Wall Street Journal, Business Insurance, the Dallas Morning News, Modern Health Care, Managed Healthcare, Health Leaders, and a many other national and local publications. You can get more information about her health industry experience here. If you need assistance responding to concerns about the matters discussed in this publication or other health care concerns, wish to obtain information about arranging for training or presentations by Ms. Stamer, wish to suggest a topic for a future program or update, or wish to request other information or materials, please contact Ms. Stamer via telephone at (214) 452-8297 or via e-mail here.
If you or someone else you know would like to receive future updates about developments on these and other concerns from Ms. Stamer, see here.
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