Study Reveals Hospital Incident Reporting Not Capturing Accurate Data

The world of hospitals is filled with regulations, and while some may seem unreasonably cumbersome, others are necessary so that patients can obtain an understanding of the quality of care that is provided in these facilities.  One of the ways that regulations begin to apply to hospitals is by way of Medicare, as hospitals need to adhere to these regulations in order to be able to accept patients who are covered by this federal program.  One of the regulations requires hospitals to establish and maintain a reporting system that provides data regarding the adverse events that people endure while they are patients at a particular facility.

Hospitals have generally complied with this requirement for obvious reasons, but in recent years questions came about regarding how accurate the reporting was for these adverse events.  Given this growing volume of questioning, the Office of the Inspector General decided to perform a study last year that looked at how well hospitals were doing with their adverse events reporting.  Put simply, the results of this study showed that the reporting was not good.  A link to the full text of the study can be found here.

The study surveyed 189 hospitals around the United States, and it uncovered several findings.  The findings in this study are quoted below:

  • All sampled hospitals had incident reporting systems to capture events, and administrators interviewed rely heavily on these systems to identify problems.
  • Nurses most often reported events, typically identified through the regular course of care.  28 of the 40 reported events led to investigations and 5 led to policy changes.
  • Hospital accreditors reported that in evaluating hospital safety practices, they focus on how event information is used rather than how it is collected.
  • Hospital staff did not report 86 percent of events to incident reporting systems, partly because of staff misperceptions about what constitutes patient harm.

While it’s somewhat reassuring to see that confusion with what should be reported was a big reason that certain adverse events were not recorded, it’s obviously extremely troubling to find out that such a high percentage of these events never made it into the hospitals’ reporting systems.

Clearly, when data that relates to the relative levels of safety and performance of hospitals is not exactly accurate, it can put certain people in danger who need certain types of medical care.  Patients need to understand their risks before making decisions regarding where to obtain their care, and the reporting requirements are supposed to make sure that this happens.  The study went on to provide several recommendations for hospitals to improve the accuracy of their reporting.

People who are harmed because of deficient medical care can suffer serious or permanent injuries and others will pay with their lives.  Anyone who has been harmed because of medical negligence needs to make sure to hold those responsible for these mistakes accountable.  If this includes you or someone you love, contact The Fitzgerald Law Firm today to schedule a free initial consultation.