Should an Important Medical Mistake Tracking Program be Optional?

All of Oregon’s community hospitals have joined a government-coordinated effort to reduce and prevent medical errors that harm or kill patients. However, The Oregonian reports that the majority of pharmacies and nursing homes in Oregon are not bothering to report medical mistakes. Only about half of the state’s licensed surgery centers are reporting their errors.

At least 34 patients died as a result of preventable medical mistakes in Oregon in 2010.

Medical mistakes, like operating on the wrong body part –or even on the wrong patient– should never happen. Yet, these life-altering medical errors happen in Oregon and across the U.S. with frightening regularity. Kaiser Health estimates that wrong-site surgery occurs 40 times a week in U.S. hospitals and clinics.

The Oregon Patient Safety Commission is trying to increase participation in the reporting program by rewarding hospitals and facilities that are willingly reporting medical errors: see the list of compliant hospitals and facilities here.

The safety commission, whose mission is  “reducing the risk of serious adverse events occurring in Oregon’s health care system and encouraging a culture of patient safety”, hopes to use this information to help healthcare facilities learn from mistakes and prevent future errors that cause injury to patients.

It’s an admirable mission that would be served by compelling hospitals, nursing homes, pharmacies and surgical centers to acknowledge their mistakes.

Read the full Oregonian article – Patient safety: Oregon’s leaders and laggards in reporting and learning from errors.