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When to Report an Incident in an Assisted Living Facility

An incident report is a form filled out to record details of an unusual event that occurs at an assisted living facility involving a patient. Guidelines usually require an incident report when an event occurs that harms an individual, illustrates a potential for harm, or evidences serious dissatisfaction by patients, visitors, or staff. An example of an incident requiring a report would be if a patient's visiting family member helps him out of bed despite directions to the contrary by staff members and the patient falls and is injured.

Incident reports must be completed promptly with all the circumstances surrounding the event, while the details are fresh in the minds of witnesses. Of course, this should occur after stabilizing the incident. Details are important if there are liability issues. Most incident reports involve accidents with patients. However, most facilities will also document any incident in which a staff member or visitor is injured.

After an incident occurs, many providers wonder if it is significant enough to report to their agent. While there is no perfect list of when to report, the following guidelines will help.

  • An incident/injury resulting in discipline/counseling with staff for failing to follow the care plan or facility policy. For example, improper use of gait belts, Hoyer lifts, sit to stand lifts, etc.
  • Any assault, either physical or sexual.
  • Any injury related to alarms or equipment not working due to maintenance issues, such as failure to change or charge batteries.
  • Any injury where the family is holding the facility responsible and is threatening a lawsuit.
  • Burns to a resident.
  • Elopements where the resident is gone for a substantial period and/or sustains injuries.
  • Incidents with attorney letters that specifically allege some type of negligence or improper care (not necessarily just records requests).
  • Injuries involving severe and/or multiple fractures, especially fractures of "unknown origin" and particularly when the resident dies within a short period afterwards.
  • Injury clearly results from deviation, or failure to follow, the care plan. For example, resident care plan indicates assist of two, but one was assisting patient when a fall occurred.

Incident reports are important not only to alert administrators and clinicians of a potential liability situation, but also, in a broader sense, to establish an information base on which to monitor and evaluate the number and types of incidents that take place in the facility and provide measures to protect patients.

At Highland Risk Services, we are ready to help you assess the impact of any incident on assisted living insurance policies and products. Contacts us to ask any questions you have or to get assistance evaluating how the risk of injuries influences the service you provide your clients. Please let us serve you by calling one of our two offices in Chicago at 847-832-9100 or Lansing at 517-676-7100.

www.highlandrisk.com

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