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Health Safety Experts Want Public Malpractice Reporting

On Behalf of | Sep 4, 2014 | Medical Malpractice

Preventable patient harm, also known as medical malpractice, is the third most common cause of death in America. Only heart disease and cancer kill more Americans each year than our own doctors.

A recent study using this method showed that preventable harm in hospitals contributes to 400,000 patient deaths each year-an average of more than 1,000 preventable deaths each day. Experts at the Harvard School of Public Health say that the public is no safer from dangerous or incompetent medical personnel than they were 15 years ago.

Currently, the only way to get this number is by combing through medical records by hand using something called the global trigger tool. This requires reviewers to look through medical records looking for signs of patient harm, and then flagging them for review by a doctor.

One problem is that public health agencies don’t have an accurate count of malpractice incidents other than lawsuits. Health experts say that the Centers for Disease Control needs to more closely track medication errors, adverse drug events, missed diagnoses, and delayed diagnoses, and said systems need to be put in place to monitor patient care.

Witnesses at a recent congressional hearing on patient safety suggest a National Patient Safety Board to investigate patient harms and make recommendations and changes based on their findings. They also proposed the creation of a national Patient’s Bill of Rights, and public reporting of patient harms so that consumers can make informed healthcare decisions.

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