Falls far too common to be routinely placed on the list of "never events"

LETTER — Posted Feb. 20, 2006

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Regarding "States target serious medical errors that never should happen" (Article, Jan. 2/9): You cite the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and the Illinois law as decreeing that a long list of medical "errors which should never happen" include any "fall that occurs in the hospital and causes ... disability."

Unsteady people do fall and suffer disability every day in their homes, grocery stores, public sidewalks, churches, nursing homes -- and hospitals. What is so unique about hospitals that falls there should be absolutely preventable, but nowhere else?

Whoever wrote this rule doesn't know much about day-to-day life in real-world hospitals, and the rule should be amended to list only those errors that are in fact absolutely preventable, such as operating on the wrong patient or sending home a baby with the wrong parents.

James Ruhlen MD, Olathe, Kan.

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2006/02/20/edlt0220.htm.

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