Monday, August 17, 2009

Consumers Should Demand Accounting of Medical Errors

The Houston Chronicle editorialized that a recent "Hearst special investigative series" indicates that "preventable medical injuries kill an estimated 200,000 Americans" annually. The Chronicle suggests that in order to prevent these deaths "on a national level, we need to know exactly what they are and where they occur. Death certificates often fail to mention medical error as a contributing cause of a patient's death." The Chronicle urged consumers to "demand that the $19 billion earmarked for electronic medical records buy us better public accounting of accidents." At the same time, it suggests consumers who have a choice among hospitals for their next surgical procedure should ask: "What's the hospital's rate of errors and infections?" The Chronicle suggests that consumers "report medical errors that affect your family to the state health department and to the Joint Commission, the national accreditation agency for hospitals."

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