California considering web-based medical error reporting

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Democratic California state Sen. Elaine Alquist has introduced legislation that aims to help protect California patients from preventable medical errors in hospitals. The "Hospital Error Reporting and Safety Act" would provide a dedicated reporting and disclosure system errors via a state web site.
   
"It's a common sense bill that will help protect people," said Alquist. She added that the bill "will provide faster reporting, faster investigation, and public disclosure of preventable hospital errors. With this new system, hospitals can be empowered, patients can be empowered, and the state can be empowered to ensure that our hospitals
are safe."
   
California has focused primarily on monitoring nursing homes and day care centers, but not as much on facilities that provide acute care. Towards this goal, the bill has five core provisions:

  • Hospitals would have 48 hours to report errors, including non-life threatening ones;
  • Facilities would be granted 45 days to complete an investigation into the error that must involve the state's Department of Health Services;
  • The legislation calls for public disclosure through the internet via the Department of Health Services;
  • Annual unannounced hospital inspections would be undertaken; and
  • The bill requires that the additional government resources put towards the initiative be charged back to hospitals.

The California Hospital Association has come out in opposition of the bill's intention to make medical error data hospital specific. The group is concerned that the information could be used to drive lawsuits, said Debby Rogers, vice president for quality and patient safety, California Hospital Association, the Sacramento Bee reports.
   
"We want to create an environment where people are willing to talk about their mistakes," added Rogers. "There may be some that would see posting the outcomes on the internet as not necessarily the environment we want to create."