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President Obama urged to require hospitals to public medical errors

According to former U.S. Treasury secretary Paul O'Neill, President Obama should order not only all VA hospitals to notify the public of every medical error that occurs in their facilities, but also all private facilities as well. According to O'Neill, such a practice would help reduce the rate of medical error in facilities nationwide.

As of now, there is no database or other resource available that allows patients to get any insight into the quality of local providers. Having such a resource in place would allow care-providing institutions to identify providers that have the best performance and also how to improve their practices.

The disclosures, it was suggested, should not be used in a punitive manner. In addition, any such requirement should be abandoned if it does not eventually result in a significant reduction in medical errors and an increase in cost savings.

Medical error is something we all want to know about when it occurs. And medical errors occur much more frequently than providers like to admit. Many medical errors are preventable, and many providers already make use of precautions. These steps could be enhanced by a public accounting of errors.

Forcing hospitals to keep records of medical errors could be beneficial on a number of levels, but it isn't clear whether such a requirement would ever be put in place. Until then, patients will continue to deal with the uncertainty of the safety of providers.

When medical error is serious enough that it causes a patient significant emotional, physical and mental suffering, legal action may be necessary. Having an experienced attorney throughout the process will help in achieving the best possible outcome.

Source: Information Week, "Obama Urged to Mandate Medical Error Reporting," Neil Versel, February 4, 2013

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