“Never Event” Occurs at VA Hospital

In the United States, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has classified any "patient death or serious disability associated with a fall while being cared for in a health care facility" as a never event – something that is "usually" preventable. In general it either reduces payments, or will not pay at all for additional hospitalization needed to treat the consequences of a never event. Logic suggests that this ruling may have some unintended consequences for medical liability cases.

According to Emergency Physicians Monthly, the widow of a patient who fell to his death from the roof of a VA hospital is suing the hospital and its doctors for $4.5 million after a suicidal patient was admitted and placed on an unlocked neurology floor.

The problem is that if the federal government (CMS) has already declared that a patient death associated with a fall while being cared for in a healthcare facility is a "never event," how can a VA hospital possibly argue that it is not liable?

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  1. Ken says:

    Linda, you expect the system to be rational?