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Bill To Force Reporting of Medical Mistakes Debated

by | Mar 1, 2010 5:04pm () Comments | Commenting has expired | Share
Posted to: Health Care, State Capitol

Angel Morales’ father hasn’t been the same since suffering a fall from a hospital bed in 2008.

At a Capitol press conference Monday Morales described how his father lost his short-term memory after the fall. The hospital did give Morales and his family all of the information about the fall, but the information he received was contradictory.

“The physician said one story. The unit manager and the nurse said another story,” said Morales. “I think my father has a right as a patient and we as a family have the right to know what transpired in 2008.”

Bill Smith, of New Hartford, lost his wife Linda Mae in 2005 after surgery at Hartford Hospital.

Joel Faxon, Smith’s attorney, said there must be laws to force hospitals to report medical errors. “Otherwise the families are forced to resort to litigation to get answers,” he said.

A proposed change to the current law would require that hospitals do just that.

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said that the proposed bill would require the hospital to report medical errors and mistakes to the Department of Public Health on an annual basis. The bill also has a provision for the protection of whistle blowers.

“Those provisions essentially close a loophole in the present law that enables hospitals to keep these errors secret,” Blumenthal said. He added that the bill would mean less litigation “because people need not resort to the courts to learn the truth.”

Jennifer Jackson, president and CEO of the Connecticut Hospital Association, expressed her organization’s opposition to the bill before the Public Health Committee. She said the bill “fails to make changes that improve the quality of care or safety for patients in Connecticut’s hospitals.”

“Every hospital in Connecticut has an adverse event reporting system in place. All hospitals are working aggressively on patient safety improvement and all are committed to reporting, investigating, and preventing adverse events.” Jackson said that the proposed changes to the law will be “counterproductive” or “duplicative.”

CHA also wants to maintain confidentiality in the reporting of medical errors and adverse events. “The primary purpose of reporting is to learn from experience, not to impose sanctions and penalties,” Jackson said. She added that the civil penalties laid out in the bill would act to dissuade professionals from reporting medical mistakes.

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