Many Medical Errors Go Unreported Every Year

In spite of an increased focus on patient safety and a spotlighting of medical errors, every year, Hawaii medical malpractice lawyers find that a large number of medical errors go unreported in American hospitals.  That’s not all.  According to research by the Department Of Health And Human Services, even after the error is reported, hospitals rarely take steps to prevent the error from occurring again. 

Hospitals are required to report medical errors in order to retain eligibility for Medicare funding.  Many hospitals now have fully established adverse event reporting systems in place to encourage staff members to report errors.  In spite of this, the researchers found that many events that could have been serious enough to kill a patient, are going unreported. 

Some of the serious adverse events going unreported include bed sores, delirium from painkiller overdoses, hospital-acquired infections and bleeding from incorrect blood thinner uses.  As many as one out of every 7 medical errors goes unreported.

It’s not as if hospitals are unaware that staff members are not reporting errors properly.  According to the society, many hospitals are aware that doctors and nurses fail to adequately report errors.  However, they do not seem to have been able to establish a system that encourages reporting. 

It’s not as if errors are not being reported because hospital staff is afraid of the consequences of reporting an adverse event.  The reason seems to be a lack of understanding or awareness about what constitutes a serious medical error.  Some of the errors are so common, that the staff found no point in reporting the error.  Other adverse events were so rare that the staff believed that the errors were not likely to be repeated, and therefore, did not need to be reported.

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