NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


November 30, 2005

An Illinois law scheduled to go into effect Jan. 1, 2008, will require hospitals and surgery centers in the state to publicly admit if they commit any of 24 types of "never events"--"inexcusable hospital foul-ups that should never occur but happen all too often."

Such events include operating on the wrong limb, leaving a surgical sponge in the body, using the wrong blood type or causing a patient death with a medication overdose.

  • Under the law, which is supported by the Illinois Hospital Association (IHA), hospitals will be required to analyze the cause and take corrective action after each event.
  • Names of patients and health care workers involved in the incidents will remain confidential, and the information will not be used in malpractice lawsuits.
  • State officials will not take disciplinary action for the mistakes.

Illinois, which is the fourth state to create a never event law, also passed several other laws that open hospitals up for public inspection. For example, hospitals will be required to report infection rates, nurse staffing and mortality rates, and give data pertaining to 30 common procedures.

Howard Peters, senior vice president of IHA, said that the law should help hospitals learn from their mistakes and create a "culture of safety."

Source: Jim Ritter, "Hospital mistakes going public in 2008," Chicago Sun-Times, November 28, 2005.


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