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Most Medicare patient errors in hospitals not reported: Part 2

As discussed in the previous post, a recent report by federal investigators found that most medical errors that harm Medicare patients in hospitals are not reported. It is required by the federal government that errors are reported as a condition of the Medicare funding.

The purpose of the reporting is so the government can track a pattern of errors and so that hospitals can work toward creating better systems that improve patient care and reduce common medical errors.

According to The New York Times, the Obama administration is working to reduce medical errors. There is a "partnership for patients" initiative underway that 2,900 hospitals in the U.S. have joined that is supposed to save 60,000 lives in three years through reducing errors. The report found, however, that even when mistakes are reported, it rarely leads to change happening.

In the U.S., 27 states require hospitals to report whether a hospital-caused infection harmed a patient. Because of this action by the states, the Obama administration decided not to push for a federal law for more reporting.

Hospitals are saying that they will create clearer instructions for employees on when to report medical errors since it is believed that errors aren't reported usually because employees do not always understand what constitutes hospital-caused harm. It is yet to be seen if hospitals will actually start to put some of these system changes into practice.

Source: The New York Times, "Report Finds Most Errors at Hospitals Go Unreported," Robert Pear, Jan. 6, 2012

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