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Federal Government Release Information on Hospital Errors

This week marked a first in the reporting of medical errors, as the U.S. government released information on how many patients are injured by certain types of hospital mistakes.

St. Louis Today published a story on the data provided to the public on Thursday. The types of problems listed included hospital falls, bedsores, urinary tract infections, air in the bloodstream, foreign objects left in body, and several others.

The usefulness of the information is already being questioned, however, as analysts are unable to understand why only certain types of preventable errors were made available. For example, wrong-site surgeries and medication errors-two of the most deadly forms of mistakes-were not mentioned as part of the released data. A spokesperson for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services explained that the agency was not yet ready to discuss any part of the information, including reasons for the minimal overall reported figures.

Several months ago the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services explained that a staggering 180,000 Medicare recipients die each year from hospital mistakes. The increased reporting of those deadly errors may go a long way in cutting down on those losses. Many members of the public remain unaware that these Illinois medical mistakes kill more people each year than car crashes or other common ailments like diabetes or pneumonia.

With those sobering stats in mind, it is sad that the American Hospital Association strongly opposes all efforts to provide the public with this information.

Our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers at Levin & Perconti believe that there should be nothing to fear from open reporting of safety information to the public. A collective goal of society should be to eliminate the tremendous number of deaths caused by medical mistakes that could be prevented. A first step in that process is allowing all community members the ability to compare the quality of care at the hospitals near them.

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