NJ, PA hospital mistakes not being reported

While hospitals in Pennsylvania and New Jersey are supposed to be reporting serious mistakes, it appears that too often, they aren't doing so. That, at least, is the conclusion drawn by observers in those states who argue that the hospitals' failure to comply with regs is compromising ongoing efforts to boost patient safety. In theory, hospitals in both states have been required to report mistakes and complications to state monitoring agencies for a number of years. But in practice, it doesn't always happen.

For example, researchers found several major errors and complications at hospitals in Pennsylvania last year, none of which had been reported to the Pennsylvania Department of Health. In New Jersey, five of the state's 80 hospitals didn't report any preventable mistakes at all last year, and in Pennsylvania, some facilities didn't report any serious mistakes or even near misses. While good safety records are admirable, it's unlikely that these facilities had absolutely perfect records, which suggests that something is wrong, observers say.

Such reporting gaps, in part, can be solved by training more staff members and working to improve treatment, according to hospital associations in both states. However, reporting gaps like these also suggest that it may be quite some time before the large number of states requiring such reporting--a total of 26 at present--can actually have a shot at making the impact they'd hoped to make. (Whether such reporting can really help hospitals make appropriate changes in the first place, of course, is a discussion all its own.)

To learn more about this issue:
- read this Philadelphia Inquirer piece

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