An Institute of Medicine report concluded that as many as 98,000 hospitalized Americans die annually, and 1 million more are injured as a result of preventable medical errors that cost the United States an estimated $29 billion. Hospitals will be required by creditors to show they meet six basic standards that reduce errors, which the IOM said kill more Americans than breast cancer, traffic accidents or AIDS.
Many doctors have protested against public profiles supposedly rating the quality of their patient care and have complained that the means for measurement are inaccurate, partly because of using out dated claims. The ratings affect their reputations adversely. Consequently, such attempts by health coverage companies have resulted in lawsuits.
According to Journal Watch, few teaching hospital faculty and residents have reported medical errors that result in harm to patients. Almost 340 doctors at three medical centers agreed that reporting errors improves quality of care, but slightly more than half understood how to report errors. Only 40 percent knew types of errors worth reporting. Eighteen percent said they had reported minor errors and four percent a major error. Seventeen percent admitted to not reporting a minor error, and four percent did not report a major error. The article concluded that institutions need to encourage reporting by creating environments where error discussion is valued and ensure the process is “confidential, simple, and worthwhile.”
According to Physcian’s News Digest, while there are considerably different ways health plan carriers rate physicians, 40 percent of national health care plan providers have earned the National Committee on Quality Assurance distinction for their performance programs. The NCQA continues to propose changes to its physician performance program in order to hold health plan carriers accountable to higher standards of detailing clinical records and having more transparency.
NCQA updates are in response to rising expectations amongst providers, consumers and regulators for increased accuracy and fairness of physician ratings.
Proposed changes include health plans having to pass with a score of 50 percent or higher on each “must pass” factor, which include utilizing at least 30 observations of individual performance, at least 50 percent of the plan’s measures be national and standardized, quality be considered in conjunction with cost measures, and have a process for allowing physicians to request changes and corrections for 45 days prior to the data becoming available to the public.
MedicalMalpractice.com stated patients checking into any one of America’s 5,200 hospitals today are almost as likely now to be killed or injured as they were on November 29, 1999 when the report was issued.
Consumers need to understand that doctors and hospitals continue to resist mandatory reporting and have taken few new steps to protect patients from errors because there is an absence of effective consumer lobbying.
Good health care requires consumers to become their own best advocates or to have willing partners or friends advocate on their behalf. Consumers are strongly encouraged to ask questions until all concerns are addressed to their satisfaction. Double check that reports and records reach their destinations, by confirming both with parties providing and those receiving the information. Become familiar with and educate yourself on conditions for which you have genetic predisposition. And get second opinions with vital diagnoses and treatment recommendations.
If you or someone you know is questioning whether or not injury done to you is the result of medical malpractice from a doctor’s error, please take the time to fill out our form and contact our Dallas medical malpractice lawyers today.