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Feds reverse course, will release hospital mistake data


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 this information.

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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