In a positive turn of events, federal regulators are reversing course and
will resume publicly releasing data on hospital mistakes, including when
foreign objects are left in patients' bodies or people get the wrong
blood type or hospital infection rates . Last month, USA TODAY reported
that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) quietly stopped
publicly reporting a host of life-threatening mistakes at hospitals after
years of making this informaton available to the public. Fortunately,
the press coverage on this issue and the push for transparency from the
general public led to CMS changing its decision to keep this information
from the general public. Many hospital officials opposed the release of
Why would CMS not want the public to have access to this information? Like
most people, I like to do a little consumer research before I make a big
purchase, such as a car or major appliance, because I want to know if
I'm buying a good product. The same should hold true for medical care.
Before undergoing a major surgery and hospital admission, a patient should
have the ability to research the hospital that he/she is planning on treating
at in order to find out things such as the hospital's error and infection
rate. Obviously, this type of information may influence where a patient
goes for treatment. If the government has this information readily available,
then it is our belief that it better share it with the general public.
Otherwise, there will be a lot of patients out there who will be suffering
from much more than just buyer's remorse.
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