State Hospital Association Reverses Position on Error Reporting

Following an uproar over attempts to keep the public from learning of serious medical errors, the Washington State Hospital Association (WSHA) has reversed its position on reporting mistakes.

According to The Spokane Review, the WSHA now advocates the disclosure of errors, such as operating on the wrong part of the body, as long as the report includes an explanation of why and how the mistakes occurred. This is a change that would require legislative action.

Hospitals have reported these mistakes to the state Health Department since 2000. The “adverse events” included doing the wrong surgery, or leaving foreign objects in a patient’s body. According to The Seattle Times, the hospitals that had made such mistakes were publicly identified until the hospital association asserted that a law, adopted in 2006, forbids the release of such records. This caused state health officials to stop releasing hospital-specific adverse event statistics.

Steve Saxe, director of facilities for the Health Department, says error reports will remain private, until a formal interpretation of the law is received from state Attorney General Rob McKenna. Rep. Tom Campbell, R-Roy, who is a member of the House Health Care Committee and a chiropractor, is quoted on King5.com as saying that the medical malpractice law cited by the association was not meant to shield hospital records. “That was not the intent of the Legislature. That was not the intent of the bill. The intent was to give the public the maximum information.”

WSHA officials said that their website, www.wsha.org has statistics that are a better measure of hospital quality. The information there focuses on how hospitals treat patients, or how well they control infections.

If possible, check the website before receiving care at any particular hospital. You have a right to know their history and adverse event statistics. But if you or a loved one has been affected by “adverse events” at a hospital, contact the legal experts at Bernard Law Group, www.4injured.com