AMDA: Abuse icon violates patient safety principle

November 25, 2019

The new Nursing Home Compare consumer alert icon violates a patient safety principle that calls on providers to establish blame-free environments for reporting incidents, medical directors stated in a new letter to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. 

The Society for Post-Act and Long-Term Care Medicine sent the letter Friday to Administrator Seema Verma asking the agency to stop using the icon.

“Abuse and neglect in nursing homes is never acceptable. Bringing it to light through reporting needs to be encouraged. We therefore urge CMS to rescind its decision to use the red hand icon, a damaging and punitive strategy that violates patient safety principles and is likely to reduce reporting rather than prevent abuse and neglect,” President Arif Nazir, MD, and Executive Director Christopher Laxton wrote.

The group stated that the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has spent “hundreds of millions of dollars to establish a patient safety network responsible for education, training and the promotion of systemic approaches to prevent adverse events, including abuse and neglect” and the icon doesn’t promote accountability. 

“Central to this mission is AHRQ’s message that healthcare facilities must establish blame-free environments. The ‘red hand’ approach to abuse and neglect violates the principle. The red hand does not provide accountability; it is instead a systemic attempt to blame facilities and/or healthcare personnel,” they wrote.