Patient safety advocates often explain the value of transparency when it comes to medical errors. Sloppy service, negligent treatment, and harmful conduct by medical professionals can only truly be understood and addressed when those involved have an idea of the scope and nature of the problem. What’s more, that data needs to be available to everyone–include patients–who can then make hospital choices based on these safety records. Once medical decisions are based on quality accountability tools, then the worst-performing medical facilities may eventually be spurred to change their practices to shape up. Combined with legal accountability following medical malpractice, open information is a critical tool in tackling the still too high instances of medical mistakes.
All of this makes a recent decision from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) quite questionable. As iHealthBeat explained in an article this weekend, CMS have announced that they are making some changes to their popular “Hospital Compare” website. Hospital Compare is a free public site that allows patients to investigate hospitals on a large number of safety measures. It is a very helpful tool when patients and their families are making choices about what hospital to attend for a surgery or other medical procedures.
Yet, it seems that CMS officials have decided to remove certain medical errors records from the website. Specifically, data on patient development of eight different conditions, errors that fall under the rubric of “hospital acquired conditions,” are slated from removal from the website during the annual update set to take place in July. Those eight conditions include: