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Most Hospital Errors Go Unreported Report Shows Need For Change

Overhaul is needed in the medical industry as adverse events consistently go unreported, according to a recent report by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General (OIG).

According to the report, 86 percent of inpatient adverse events are not documented by hospital-incident recording systems, and the issue is occurring everywhere – from California to New York.

Hospitals are required to track adverse events, analyze their causes and make proper adjustments to quash those same mistakes in the future as a requirement of receiving Medicare payments. But what hospitals consider to be “reportable” adverse events varies across the country, meaning that no one knows exactly how often medical negligence is occurring and just how safe health care facilities actually are.

Adverse events range from severe bedsores and infections acquired during a hospital stay, to medication errors, delirium linked to painkiller abuse and excessive bleeding from improper use of blood thinning drugs.

More than 130,000 patients receiving Medicare experience at least one adverse event each month, the inspector general estimates.

But the OIG report showed only two of the 18 most serious events were reported: death and those that involved irreparable injury. In many other instances, the physician or health professional did not believe reporting the matter was required. Because of these inconsistencies, the inspector general would like for all hospitals to have a standardized list of adverse events that must be reported.

Federal investigators believe that some hospital employees do not report adverse events because they figure someone else will, while others think the event was either so common or so rare that it would not be worth documenting.

The OIG believes implementing a standardized list of adverse events as a reference point for what hospital employees must report will bring clarity to an otherwise haphazard issue. Additionally, the Medicare agency says hospitals should follow up and provide straightforward and detailed instructions to employees as to what they are expected to report.

However, even after hospitals investigate reported preventable infections and injuries, they seldom change their practices, the OIG says. According to American Medical news, hospital administrators chose not to follow up on reported adverse events 30 percent of the time.

While hospitals have yet to adapt and improve policies or practices that need fixing, the hope of the OIG is that they will. Unfortunately, though, medical mistakes are never completely preventable. If you or a loved one is injured due to hospital negligence, speak with an experienced medical malpractice attorney in your area to protect your legal rights. Contact us at (408) 289-1417.

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