Connecticut Hospital Mistakes Withheld from Public

Thousands of severe injuries and deaths caused by preventable hospital mistakes in Connecticut have been withheld from the public following revisions to a state law that was allegedly designed to keep the public informed about the quality of care at the state’s hospitals and to encourage facilities to improve their care.

An investigation by the Hartford Courant found that hospital errors, including those that resulted in more than 50 deaths, are being kept from the public due to changes to the state’s adverse event reporting law that were enacted five years ago. Many of the unreported medical mistakes are “never events” – or errors that should never occur if the proper standards of medical care are followed.

The law was originally passed in 2002 to force hospitals to honestly report all serious medical errors to the public. However, the revelations of medical mistakes in the wake of the law caused hospitals to balk, according to the Courant investigation, and hospital lobbyists convinced state lawmakers to change the law in 2004. The state saw a 90% drop in the number of hospital errors being reported following the changes, which allow hospitals to police themselves as far as what’s being reported, and keep secret any error that does not result in a state investigation.

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The investigation found numerous deaths resulting from hospital error went unreported and uninvestigated, including cases where patients died due to medication mistakes and bled to death after having arteries mistakenly severed. So-called “never events,” such as surgery errors where sponges or surgical instruments are left inside the patients’ bodies, also often went unreported.

While hospital and state officials say that Connecticut hospitals are meeting the requirements of the reporting law and that the low numbers are a good sign, patient advocates and other critics say that the law has been so narrowly redefined that only the most egregious errors have even the slightest chance of seeing daylight, and many of those are likely never reported to the state either. Additionally, the state does not appear to have the resources or motivation to investigate whether the hospitals are adhering to the law.

The problem is similar to those being experienced by states nationwide, and on a national level as well. More than 20 states have similar reporting laws on the books. There is a federal National Practitioner Data Bank, which requires that hospitals report disciplinary actions taken against physicians.

In June, the Washington Post ran a report about the failure of Maryland hospitals to report medical mistakes. The Post found that only one hospital had been fined for failing to report in the five years the law had been in place.

According to a report by the consumer advocacy group, Public Citizen, hospitals also routinely fail to report disciplinary actions taken against their physicians as required by law. The group indicated that many hospitals exploit loopholes in the law and off-the-record disciplinary actions to avoid reporting, depriving state medical boards of information needed to protect patients from a potential risk of medical malpractice.

1 Comments

  • AditMarch 25, 2012 at 10:30 pm

    Your #1 concern is to make sure your miaecdl bills get paid.Don't sign ANYTHING until you have consulted with an Attorney FIRST!!!My guess is about 10% of personal injury matters end up in Court. BUT, when you go to a law office for a personal injury case, the attorney will immediately start preparing the matter as if it IS going to go to Court. Because they don't know for sure. So they start prep[Show More]Your #1 concern is to make sure your miaecdl bills get paid.Don't sign ANYTHING until you have consulted with an Attorney FIRST!!!My guess is about 10% of personal injury matters end up in Court. BUT, when you go to a law office for a personal injury case, the attorney will immediately start preparing the matter as if it IS going to go to Court. Because they don't know for sure. So they start preparing the documents, etc. as though the case will go to Court. This is very similar to a chess game but this game is played out by the insurance companies. I have seen MANY personal injury cases get settled the day before the matter was scheduled for Court It is usually resolved by the attorneys playing out their chess moves. I assure you, if I was injured in a miaecdl malpractice incident, I would get an attorney to settle my case. But, then, I work for attorneys that do malpractice/personal Injury matters and I know how hard they work. One thing I want to make you aware of: When someone has been involved in a miaecdl malpractice incident/motor vehicle accident, a clock starts ticking. If you wait too long, nothing will be able to be done for you. My suggestion is to call a lawyer asap.THE best way to find a lawyer is by word of mouth. Ask your: family, friends, coworkers, anyone you might know in the same situation, etc.ORCall your local (usually county) bar association. Ask for names of attorneys that handle Personal Injury/Medical Malpractice matters. (If money is a BIG problem, you could also ask for the phone number of your local LegalAid office. the attorneys at LegalAid are real attorneys, but sometimes in the field of Law, how much you are willing to pay does affect the quality you get.)When you call the law office(s), insist on speaking with the Lawyer. Just tell the Secretary the main idea of your matter do not tell all the little details of your matter to the Secretary save the details for the Attorney. When you get the Lawyer on the phone line, ask him/her:- Do they give >>>FREE, initial consultations for the FIRST meeting? (most do, but not all you have to ask, don't assume)- How much do they charge?- Could you make payments on your account? (Usually personal injury matters are paid at the end, on a contingency (percentage) basis.)- Can they help you? OR Refer you to someone who can help you?And be patient personal injury cases can take 1 2 years sometimes.DON'T SIGN ANYTHING without consulting with an attorney first! Those insurance companies will try to trick you beware.Good luck to you.(This is based on my knowledge, information, belief, and life experiences. This was intended as personal opinion, and not intended to be used as legal advice. Seeking advice over the Internet is not a good idea the field of Law is too complex for that. Please be careful and do your research.)

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