OIG Targets Safety and Medical Errors in 2015

I was reminded yesterday that quality improvement and patient safety rank high on the HHS’ Office of Inspector General’s priorities for FY 2015[1]. They plan to focus on five areas of Hospital Quality and Patient Safety.

Quality Improvement – Participation in projects with quality improvement organizations (QIOs)

The OIG will examine the extent of hospitals’ participation in quality improvement projects with Quality Improvement Organizations (QIOs). Medicare spent about $1.6 billion for the recently completed 3-year contract with QIOs, so it seems that the OIG is interested in the value gained from this investment. The report is expected in FY 2015.

Patient Safety – Oversight of pharmaceutical compounding in acute care hospitals

The OIG will examine the extent that hospitals follow recommended practices for pharmaceutical compounding. Pharmaceutical compounding is the creation of a prescription drug tailored to meet the needs of an individual patient. Most hospitals compound at least some pharmaceuticals onsite. The OIG work plan states that this is a particularly important patient safety issue in view of a 2012 meningitis outbreak resulting from contaminated injections of compounded drugs. This report is expected in FY 2015

Hospital Quality – Oversight of hospital and medical staff privileging

The OIG will determine how hospitals assess medical staff candidates before granting initial privileges, including verification of their credentials and use of the National Practitioner Databank. Because hospital privileging programs contribute to quality and patient safety this is a keen interest of the OIG. The report is expected in FY 2016

Patient Safety – Adverse events in post-acute care at LTCHs & IRFs

The OIG will study the national incidence of patient safety events in LTCHs and IRFs.  They will look specifically at adverse and temporary harm events for Medicare beneficiaries receiving post-acute care in inpatient rehabilitation facilities (IRF) and long-term-care hospitals. They will also identify factors contributing to these patient safety events, determine the extent to which the events were preventable using quality improvement programs, and estimate the associated costs to Medicare. The report is expected in FY 2015.

The OIG will periodically update its online Work Plan, available at www.oig.hhs.gov.

About the Office of Inspector General

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) has identified reducing waste in Medicare Parts A and B and ensuring quality, including in hospitals, nursing homes, hospice care, and home- and community-based care, as top management challenges facing the Department.

The OIG staff members are deployed throughout the Nation in regional and field offices and in the Washington, DC, headquarters. They conduct audits, evaluations, and investigations; provide guidance to industry; and, when appropriate, impose civil monetary penalties (CMPs), assessments, and administrative sanctions.

[1] FY 2015 started in October 2014