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Most Hospital Errors Are Not Reported

by Suzanne Daniluk, RN on January 6th, 2012

A report released today by the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services revealed that hospital employees fail to recognize and report most errors and other adverse events which harm Medicare inpatients.

According to a New York Times article, even though most hospitals do have incident-reporting systems in place, and are required by state law to report events such as nosocomial infections, only 1 out of 7 hospital employees reported the events. Investigators also learned through independent physician reviews of patient medical records that over 130,000 Medicare recipients had at least one such event occur in a single month.

Study findings noted that, while employees do not necessarily fear admitting mistakes, they often assume that someone else will do the reporting or fail to realize the incident is reportable, or make an assessment of an incident as isolated and unlikely to recur. The study also found that hospitals made few changes in practices following reported adverse events.

Medicare officials made plans to implement a “reportable events” list for use in hospitals to aid clarification and educate employees. Currently, agencies which inspect and accredit hospitals do not evaluate hospital methods for keeping track of medical errors and other adverse events.

The Obama administration has stated it has no plans to propose federal requirements regarding public reporting of adverse events.

The complete report is available here.

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From → Health Law