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Many hospital errors not being reported

A recent report on hospital errors relating to Medicare patients reveals information many Pennsylvania residents probably do not want to hear. The investigation, conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services, indicates that for every seven errors that occur in a hospital setting, only one is reported. This is contrary to one of the conditions hospitals must follow in order to be paid under Medicare.

Under that condition, all medical mistakes are supposed to be tracked, analyzed and necessary steps taken to improve the level of care provided.

While many would assume that the reason the events are not being reported is fear on the part of the medical care provider, the investigation revealed a different reason. The main issue behind the lack of reporting is actually the failure to recognize that an error was committed. Other times, the health care worker may assume that the incident would be reported by someone else.

Medicare officials are interested in taking steps to improve the reporting percentage and have created a plan to do so. The group is going to create a list of medical events that should be reported for medical providers to refer to. Examples of instances that may be found on that list include: severe bedsores, excessive bleeding connected to the used of blood thinners, infections and medication errors. They are hoping this will clear up the current confusion.

Whether this approach will improve the number of medical errors reported remains to be seen. What do you think? Do you think the list of "reportable events" will make a positive impact?

Source: MSNBC, "Only 1 in 7 hospital errors reported, study finds," Robert Pear, Jan. 6, 2012

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