A program currently being pushed by the Obama administration would give patients the opportunity to report medical mistakes they may have experienced while receiving care by hospitals, nurses, doctors and pharmacists.
This initiative for consumer reporting is vital given that federal officials believe many medical mistakes - such as medication errors, surgical errors and avoidable infections - are not reported by patients. In fact, some research reported by the New York Times indicates that roughly one-fourth of all patients encounter some type of "adverse event" while seeking treatment in and out of hospitals.
As part of the proposed reporting program, patients would likely answer a questionnaire inquiring about the patients' treatment. A recent draft of this questionnaire included questions regarding why the medical mistake occurred and possible reasons for the mistakes.
Specifically, the government wants to discover, among other things:
- Whether the medical mistake involved an incorrect medication
- Whether the medical mistake involved an incorrect dosage or adverse reaction to medication
- Whether the medical mistake involved a surgery on the wrong part of the body
- Whether the medical mistake involved an incorrect procedure or test
- Whether the medical mistake involved infections or unsanitary conditions
If the project is approved, officials expect to start gathering these questionnaires in May. And while many hospitals may be hesitant to such a program - as medical mistakes may expose them to medical malpractice liability - federal officials have assured that reporting by patients is voluntary and that the government would keep the information confidential.
Source: The New York Times, "New System for patients to Report Medical Mistakes," Robert Pear, September 22, 2012
Our firm often handles situations in which hospitals cause injury due to medical mistakes. If you would like to learn more about our experience with medical malpractice claims, please feel free to visit our Queens Hospital Errors page.