Medical Error Reporting System in California Hospitals Examined
The San Jose Mercury News on Sunday examined "the complex system by which hospitals are regulated in California" that places emphasis "on fixing problems without penalizing" medical mistakes.
Although hospitals in California are not fined if they receive a citation, they face a "remote" possibility of losing federal funding, according to the Mercury News. In addition, the Mercury News reports that "no one compiles or disseminates" information on error rates at hospitals.
In recent years, hospitals have established a number of programs to reduce and track medical errors, such as having medical teams practice together, encouraging subordinates to report supervisors' errors and using bar-code scanners to ensure patients receive the right medications. However, consumer and patient-safety advocates "say the hospital industry as a whole is still reluctant to disclose many errors" for liability reasons, and most reports of medical mistakes "avoid drawing a direct connection" between the error and its cause, the Mercury News reports (Bailey/Sevrens Lyons, San Jose Mercury News, 11/27).