Hospital association changes position on reporting medical errors
The Washington State Hospital Association has reversed its position on the reporting of hospital mistakes after a public uproar over its...
Seattle Times staff reporter
The Washington State Hospital Association has reversed its position on the reporting of hospital mistakes after a public uproar over its efforts to keep such details from being released by the state.
The association's efforts to prevent disclosure were detailed in a front-page story Tuesday in The Seattle Times.
Cassie Sauer, spokeswoman for the association, said the group now favors the disclosure of errors, which include operating on the wrong body part and other dangerous incidents, as long as the reports also include context — such as how many patients, and what types of patients, each hospital serves, what the hospital has done about the mistakes, and how it plans to prevent future problems.
"We had a lot of discussion about your (The Seattle Times') article, and a lot of calls," Sauer said today. "There's been a lot of reaction to this, more than we expected. ... Your article made us realize that people really do want the information."
Since 2000, hospitals have reported so-called "adverse events" — also including doing the wrong surgery or leaving foreign objects in a patient's body — to the state Health Department, which has routinely disclosed the hospital-specific information.
The hospital association had succeeded in arguing that a law passed last Legislative session now prevents such disclosure.
Despite the reversal this week, Sauer said, the association can't "unring the bell," now that they've told the state Department of Health why the law passed last year prevents disclosure. Sauer said the association still believes its interpretation of the current law is correct.
"We don't have the power to tell them it's OK to violate the law," she said.
So now the association will work with state lawmakers to change the law so that disclosure, along with needed context, can be released.
Carol M. Ostrom: 206-464-2249 or email@example.com
Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company
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