Updated on: 4/5/2013
In the past, it hasn’t been easy for the public to access the results of inspection reports about violations concerning medical errors in hospitals throughout the United States. However, thanks to efforts by the Association of Healthcare Journalists (AHCJ), those reports can now be found in an easy-to-use database on the internet.
It’s the first time that the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid has released inspection reports for hospitals throughout the entire United States. The release comes in response to multiple requests from the AHCJ, who has compiled an easily-accessible online database that is searchable by state and is available for free to the public.
Innovative Database of Hospitals’ Medical Mistakes
According to HospitalInspections.org, “This effort follows years of advocacy by AHCJ to encourage federal officials to publish this information electronically. Until now, this information has only been available through Freedom of Information Act requests – and only in paper form.”
In one newsworthy instance at an Oregon hospital, a mistake by the hospital staff resulted in 18 patients undergoing colonoscopy procedures with medical equipment and tools that had not been properly disinfected.
Other similar violations – which have always been documented, but never before were easily accessible by the public without a freedom of information act request – include a nurse who mistakenly hooked a patient up to an oxygen tube instead of suction to remove an obstruction. That same nurse failed to report the mistake to doctors, and the patient died two days later.
Moving Forward with Healthcare Transparency
Although these mistakes are generally isolated, some hospitals have a stronger reputation for handling medical errors than others. The AHCJ began this project with the goal of empowering patients and giving them access to information that was otherwise difficult to obtain. It also gives hospitals some motivation for being diligent and working to correct medical errors and policies.
“It gives hospitals an incentive to do the right thing because the more accountability and transparency there is, the more incentive there is for hospitals to clean up mistakes and problems when they see them,” says Jayson McNichol, president of Health Advocacy Solutions.
The AHCJ admits that the database is incomplete and is an ongoing project that they hope to improve as time goes on. While some reports and facilities may still be missing, it certainly is a great place to start when it comes to creating more transparency for patients in the healthcare industry.