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Hospital Medical Error Reporting Gaining Ground – January 11, 2010

As Illinois prepares to finally implement it’s 2005 medical error reporting law, California reports that hospital errors have increased by more than 300 cases last year after it’s 2006 law requiring public reporting of such mistakes went into effect. As a result medicare has stopped paying for errors such as when the wrong surgery is performed or has reduced hospital payments where a patient suffers complications from a preventable mistake.

The Institute of Medicine, in a report issued ten years ago, reported that nationally up to 98,000 people die each year due to preventable mistakes. Minnesota was the first state to adopt a comprehensive medical reporting law to improve the reporting of medical mistakes and other health related information as part of a national patient safety movement prompted by the Institute’s report. A handful of states have followed Minnesota’s lead.

Illinois has recently launched a state web site that tracks hospital infection rates and staff levels and has begun the search for a vendor to implement the 2005 law. The Illinois law concerns the public reporting by hospitals of errors of the most serious kind – so-called “never” mistakes. Those are mistakes that are mostly preventable and pose potentially life-threatening consequences.

It is expected that it will be at least another year before the Illinois Adverse Health Care Event Reporting Law is fully implemented. When that happens, hospitals will have 30 days to report major medical errors to the state’s public health department.

It is hoped that the public sharing of information will benefit all parties – not only patients but providers, in learning from the circumstances and events leading to preventable medical errors made by others.


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