Patients might gain power to report on medical errors

Patient Safety Monitor Insider

September 25, 2012

The Obama administration has proposed a consumer reporting system that will allow patients to provide information about medical mistakes and healthcare providers, which could clarify the reasons behind wrong-site surgeries, drug mix-ups, radiation overdoses, and other patient safety issues. Hospitals and physicians have stated they are receptive to the idea, though concerns about potential financial penalties and malpractice liability do exist. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) is seeking White House approval for a prototype system this month.

Patients do not currently have a means of reporting patient safety events, but the information provided in patient reports could create a “more complete and accurate understanding” of medical errors, according to Carolyn M. Clancy, MD, director of AHRQ. Other physicians warn

 that that patients’ reports should always be compared to information in medical records, since a lack of medical knowledge may lead patients to incorrectly report information and observations. Ideally, patients will report medical errors online and through telephone interviews; reporting for the pilot project will be voluntary and confidential. 

Source: The New York Times