NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Hospitals Ignoring Requirements to Report Errors

July 27, 2012

According to a report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services inspector general, hospitals are ignoring state regulations that require them to report cases in which medical care harmed a patient, making it almost impossible for health care providers to identify and fix preventable problems, says USA Today.

Researchers say the hospitals' failure to report problems isn't a sign of a cover-up but rather the staffs' ignorance of the regulations and what they need to report. This ignorance, however, severely undermines overarching efforts to control the spread of preventable diseases and to use accountability to check medical mistakes.

  • Past reports show that about 27 percent of Medicare patients are harmed as a result of medical care.
  • Those errors cost Medicare $324 million for one month.
  • Further, 44 percent of the cases tracked by inspectors involved preventable health care problems.

Some emphasize that electronic medical records will help to correct much of this problem; because of their thoroughness, small and large medical mistakes will be recorded and reported properly without being lost in piles of paperwork.

Others contend, however, that part of the core problem is that hospitals are already scrambling in order to comply with a litany of federal regulations. Nancy Foster, vice president of quality and patient safety policy for the American Hospital Association, argued that were it not for such efforts that sap hospitals of time and money, unilateral efforts could be made to improve patients' health outcomes.

Source: Kelly Kennedy, "HHS: Hospitals Ignoring Requirements to Report Errors," USA Today, July 20, 2012.

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