The organization’s culture is the factor most determining the liability risk of a facility or community serving the elderly, according to a recent report from CNA Financial Corporation in Chicago.

The CNA report, Using Evidence to Achieve Excellence: Engage, Lead, Succeed, analyzes CNA claim data to provide recommendations that aging services leaders can implement in their efforts to enhance resident safety. In a statement accompanying the report, Bruce Dmytrow, vice president for aging services and national programs with CNA, said the claims data show the importance of organizational culture in reducing liability.

“From the study, we learned that there is a significant differentiator between organizations that are challenged by ongoing issues related to resident falls, pressure ulcers, and other risk exposures experienced by senior living communities and those that are considered ‘high performing.’ The differentiator that distinguishes the high performing community is the culture permeating the organization,” he said. “When organizations demonstrate a commitment to providing a compassionate, resident-focused culture of safety, they improve the quality of the services, enhance employee retention, and mitigate major sources of risk.”

Resident falls are the most frequent cause of professional liability claims for aging services organization, the report says. The analysis looked at such factors as whether the fall was witnessed, whether the resident had a history of previous falls, and the outcome. CNA also addresses pressure ulcers in the report.

The report discusses case scenarios, noting allegations and outlining risk management recommendations. The following are additional findings in the report:

  • Assisted living closed claims incur an average total paid higher than the overall average total paid.
  • Resident falls account for 42.7% of the 2,617 claims studied, at a cost of $208.4 million in total payments.
  • Resident fall is the most frequent allegation associated with closed claims involving readmissions to acute care hospitals.
  • The frequency of pressure ulcer claims is low, but their severity is higher than in skilled nursing. Closed claims relating to pressure ulcers account for 18.5% of the closed claims, at a total cost of $113.2 million.
  • One pressure ulcer occurred in an independent living setting and had a total paid of $415,936.
  • The allegation with the highest severity is elopement, with an average total paid of $325,561.

The report is available online at: