Patient Identification Errors May be Added to Medicare’s No-Pay List
Last fall the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced it would no longer reimburse healthcare providers for care stemming from nosocomial infections and incompatible blood transfusions. According to an article in the Dark Daily , the agency is considering adding three more categories of medical mistakes to the list. The latest so-called “never events” include:
The CMS web site recites the National Quality Forum’s (NQF) definition of never events as “errors in medical care that are clearly identifiable, preventable, and serious in their consequences for patients, and that indicate a real problem in the safety and credibility of a health care facility.” To be included on NQF’s list of never events, an event had to have been characterized as:
Other insurers have followed the agency’s lead, implementing nonpayment policies of their own for never events. What’s unclear is whether or not the agency will consider venipunctures to be an invasive procedure. But the specter of non-payment alone provides phlebotomists and their employers reason enough to further reinforce proper protocol and adherence to the standards in their facilities.
Just Write for Lab Week: Order of Draw Pens
This Month in Phlebotomy Today
Here’s what subscribers to Phlebotomy Today, the Center for Phlebotomy Education’s paid-subscription newsletter currently in its 9th year of publication, are reading about this month:
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Featured FAQ: Revised order of draw for emergencies
Q: Our written venipuncture procedure states the order of draw as: citrate, SST/clot, heparin, EDTA. Our Emergency Preparedness Plan currently states that when a trauma alert (i.e., disaster) is called, the order of draw changes to: EDTA (for BB/hematology purposes), citrate, heparin, and then the clot tube. I understand the need for BB/hematology to take priority in this kind of situation, but how does this revised order square with the risk of anticoagulant cross-contamination?
A: There’s no support in the literature for such a modification. It sounds as if the person behind this revision lacks an understanding of the rationale behind the order of draw. It’s difficult to understand why an emergency would demand a revised order of draw. Will there be someone standing by during every venipuncture to rush each tube to the laboratory as soon as it’s filled? You should vigorously discourage attempts to reinvent such a well-established procedure.
Each month, PT--STAT! will publish one of the hundreds of phlebotomy FAQs in the growing database of questions and answers available in Phlebotomy Central, the members-only section of the Center for Phlebotomy Education's web site. For information on joining Phlebotomy Central, visit www.phlebotomy.com/PhlebotomyCentral.html.
Center for Phlebotomy Education Opens Phlebotomy School
The Center for Phlebotomy Education has been developing educational materials for schools and healthcare facilities around the world since 1998. This month, they open their own school.
“Phlebotomists have always been in high demand,” says the Center’s Director Dennis J. Ernst MT(ASCP). “Hospitals, laboratories, clinics, and other healthcare providers are always looking for good phlebotomists, not just locally, but across the country. Every healthcare facility we’ve talked to is anxious for us to start producing quality applicants to fill their vacancies.”
In last month’s issue we asked Phlebotomy Today STAT! readers
Most of those who commented reflected a thorough understanding of the risk ammonia inhalants pose, especially to asthma patients. Because it is a respiratory irritant and asthmatics don’t identify themselves as such when presenting for lab work, the potential exists that a fainting patient who is given whiffs of ammonia can go into respiratory distress. The Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute’s venipuncture standard (Document H3) has cautioned against the use of ammonia inhalants since 2003.
This month’s survey question: What mnemonic do you use to remember or teach the proper order of draw? (example: "Studious Boys Rarely Get Low Grades" = Sterile, blue, red, green, lavender, gray.)
Featured Product: Manager's Toolbox
The January issue of PT-STAT! incorrectly stated that aPTTs from patients on unfractionated heparin must be tested within one hour. According to the CLSI standards (H21), such specimens must be centrifuged and the plasma separated from the cells within one hour, but testing can be completed in four hours. We regret this oversight, and appreciate our astute readers who have brought this to our attention.
What Would You Do?
Each month, What Would You Do? presents a different case study, then asks readers to contribute their ideas as to how each situation would best be handled. The following month, selected responses will be chosen by the editor and published (sender will be identified by first name and state only). The most accurate, well written response will receive a free "Accurate Results Begin With Me!® t-shirt. The exercise will conclude with a review of the selected submissions and a discussion of the standards pertinent to the case study
Those who responded to this month’s case study showed a wide diversity in tactics. Ten percent suggested applying gauze or a cotton ball to the site instead of a bandage. Although such a substitute may seem to skirt the standards, the suggestion that gauze is less of a choking risk than a bandage seems hard to swallow.
Another ten percent suggested the collector have his/her supervisor handle the situation, while fully one-third of those who responded said they’d comply if the parent insists. Among those who favored this approach, some suggested the incident should be documented. From a customer service standpoint, this approach is likely to result in the most satisfaction, albeit the greater risk. Before adopting this policy facilities should weigh heavily the likelihood of being exonerated from liability when they allow a parent to insist they deviate from the standard of care.
Fifty-five percent provided the most diplomatic and least risky response: that of explaining the policy to insistent parents, then handing over the bandage for them to apply if they so choose. Presumably, the intent is for this action to transfer liability for choking to the parent…. at least in theory. Whatever the facility’s policy is, it should be carefully drafted with the input from the facility’s risk manager and/or legal counsel. One respondent suggested having a witness observe the handing over of the bandage to the parent. Should a witness not be available, the parent should sign a consent document. Such a strategy sounds prudent and crafted with an abundance of caution, the necessity of which should be asked of a legal representative.
Several articulate and appropriate responses made the selection of this month’s winner difficult. We considered it a four-way tie, and had to randomly select from the best of the best. This month’s chosen recipient of the Accurate Results Begin With Me!® t-shirt goes to Lois B. of Pennsylvania. Congratulations, Lois.
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