Medical errors: To report, or not to report

Did you know there is a statewide patient safety program that requires hospitals to notify in writing any patient affected by a serious medical error? Well, neither do a lot of the hospitals! The Oregonian just reported that this “required” written notification took place less than half the time. In fact, of the 80 cases where written notification should have been provided, only 36 were successfully accomplished.

So why the failure to send out written notifications? Even the Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems doesn’t seem to have a concrete answer. Admitting such medical mistakes can be difficult, but apparently nine hospitals have succeeded in sticking to the patient safety program. In other words, if hospitals want to notify patients of medical errors, they can. It’s not rocket science.

The Oregon Patient Safety Commission just received a $20,000 grant to assist hospitals in streamlining the process to provide written notification. For more on this story, see this article.