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Transparent error-related data is critical for patient safety

Posted by Smiley & Smiley on Jan 5, 2014 5:39:21 PM

As many readers may already be aware, a startling report on the state of preventable medical errors was published this past year in the Journal of Patient Safety. According to this study, preventable errors and instances of medical malpractice likely account for roughly 440,000 American fatalities annually. This statistic illuminates preventable medical errors as the third most common cause of death in the U.S. In addition to the fatality-related statistic, the report suggests that roughly 10 to 20 times the number of patients who die from these mistakes each year suffer serious harmed as a result of non-lethal hospital-related errors.

The gravity of this situation is obviously significant. Many are questioning what can be done in order to protect patients on such a large scale. The New York Times recently published a piece which suggests that one of the critical changes that the American healthcare system needs to make in order to increase patient safety is simply providing the public with transparent and readily-accessible data on any given healthcare facility’s error-rates.

If knowledge is indeed power, equipping patients with more detailed and accurate data about a facility’s performance in context may be key to inspiring superior patient safety efforts in facilities nationwide. If patient safety ratings and error rates are made widely available, patients living in areas with more than one available facility will naturally choose the safer option, thereby placing pressure on substandard facilities to improve their error-related performance.

Patients in New York have a variety of healthcare options available to them. Given the scourge of error-related patient fatalities in the U.S. right now, patients in New York will do themselves a great service by researching the error-rates of their available options before settling on one facility’s care over another’s.

Source: The New York Times, “To Make Hospitals Less Deadly, a Dose of Data,” Tina Rosenberg, Dec. 4, 2013

Topics: Medical Malpractice, mistakes

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