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Changes in reporting hospital errors worry patient advocates

Arizona individuals who are searching for information about hospital errors will no longer be able to access data on certain types of mistakes such as people who had foreign objects left inside them after surgery. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services says its new system of tracking and reporting is more accurate and useful to consumers, but patient advocates say more information should be available so that people can make up their own minds.

The CMS eliminated tracking of certain incidents and added several others such as MRSA infections. According to the CMS, the incidents that were removed were so rare that they did not provide patients with useful data. A representative from the American Hospital Association has pointed out that inaccurate data is not useful for patients. However, one study has shown that objects may be left in the body after surgery as often as 6,000 times per year. Patient advocates say that even if these types of events are isolated incidents, that is all the more reason consumers need to know about them. If a hospital has made an unusual and catastrophic error, that may sway a person's decision about using that hospital.

Individuals who do feel that they or their loved ones may have experienced medical malpractice may wish to consult with an attorney. If negligence has occurred, it may be possible to file a claim.

Negligence is generally considered to be a failure to maintain a reasonable standard of care. Therefore, a person might suffer complications or an infection following surgery, but that would not necessarily be due to negligence. However, if an individual was given the wrong post-operative care, that may be negligence, and the patient might have a strong case to take to court.

Source: USA Today, "Feds stop public disclosure of many serious hospital errors", Jayne O'Donnell, August 06, 2014

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