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Change in how hospital errors are reported

Arizona residents may be unaware that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has changed how it reports hospital errors. These are also known as hospital avoidable conditions or HACs. The CMS claims its new method of reporting results in greater accuracy, but patient advocates have expressed concern about individuals' abilities to access potentially important information.

According to the CMS, it is no longer necessary to track certain incidents that are so rare as to be irrelevant in assessing hospital safety. However, it has been estimated one such incident, leaving a foreign object in a body after surgery, happens around 6,000 times per year.

In all, eight HACs will no longer be tracked and reported publicly. These also include people being given the wrong blood type and air bubbles introduced into the body that may lead to death. While the new report does include some previously unreported conditions such as post-surgical infections and MRSA, some experts claim that the initial proposal was unclear regarding the removal of incidents. A CMS representative says the new reporting system is more rigorous and will be more useful to consumers while others point out that consumers should be able to decide for themselves whether certain factors are relevant when choosing a hospital.

Some of the incidents tracked by the CMS may constitute hospital negligence. Individuals who suffer complications as a result of incidents like surgical material being left behind may wish to speak with an attorney about their options. In a medical malpractice suit, it is necessary to demonstrate negligence, or a breach of a standard of care that gives rise to an injury.

Source: USA Today , "Feds stop public disclosure of many serious hospital errors", Jayne O'Donnell, August 06, 2014

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