Monday, November 16, 2009

CT's Adverse Event Reporting Law Lets Hospitals Avoid Scrutiny

The Hartford Courant reported that a Connecticut law "intended to protect patients by making them aware of hospitals' errors has ended up making it easier for hospitals to avoid scrutiny." Currently, "under the state's 'adverse event' reporting law, hospitals are required to inform the state Department of Public Health when patients suffer certain serious unintended harm," but "public access to hospitals' adverse events has fallen 90 percent since the legislature redrafted the law" in 2004, and "hospitals now report a fraction of the mishaps they once revealed." According to the Courant, "that secrecy was written into the law after hospitals balked at the state's original adverse-event legislation, which gave the public broad access to reports of medical errors and accidents."

In a related piece, the Hartford Courant reported that even though "more than 1,200 adverse-event reports have been filed by Connecticut hospitals since the law was changed in 2004, including at least 116 in which patients died," only "about one in four are investigated, down from half of cases investigated before the law was revised." Although "the Department of Public Health launched investigations in most cases in which doctors performed surgery on the wrong body part or the wrong patient, as well as cases in which patients were killed or seriously harmed as the result of a medication error," Connecticut "officials investigated only about half the reported sexual assaults on patients, and half the cases in which sponges or other foreign objects were left inside patients after surgery."

No comments: