In a report released by the Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General (OIG), more than one in five Medicare beneficiaries receiving skilled care after a hospitalization experiences an adverse event. The study defined an adverse event as harm that resulted in a longer stay in the skilled nursing facility or transfer to a hospital, permanent harm life-sustaining intervention, or death. These adverse events are preventable and the resulting care and hospitalizations cost Medicare an estimated $2.8 billion in 2011, the year the study was conducted.
The OIG stated that this study confirmed the need and opportunity for skilled nursing facilities to reduce the number of adverse events to residents and recommends that CMS direct the state surveyors to review facility practices for identifying and reducing adverse events. When asked how they intended to deal with these adverse events, the CMS stated they did not want to approach the matter using harsher penalties and that survey citations won’t be the primary way for dealing with these incidents. Rather, they want to focus on helping nursing care providers in setting up quality improvements specifically through the use of QAPI.
The OIG recommended that CMS work on developing lists of preventable events to help skilled nursing facility’s staff understanding, include preventable events on the QAPI systems and to encourage facilities to report adverse events to safety organizations. The OIG also recommended that CMS tell state surveyors to include an assessment of adverse event identification and reduction in their QAPI compliance and to link related deficiencies to their resident safety practices. CMS did say that they are working to include guidance for surveyors on how to evaluate nursing facilities efforts to identify and reduce adverse events in their QAPI requirements.
CMS still has not stated when QAPI will formally roll out.