Most hospital executives have substantial concerns about mandatory error reporting systems

A survey of hospital leaders indicates that many have serious reservations about a mandatory error reporting system, including that it would discourage event reporting and increase the risk of lawsuits, according to a study in the March 16 issue of JAMA.

Since the early 1990s, much has been learned about medical errors in health care settings, and about their impact on illness, death, and costs, according to background information in the article. Although a number of approaches to reduce errors were proposed, a key strategy involved the use of reporting systems to identify and learn from errors. The Institute of Medicine has recommended establishing both mandatory and voluntary reporting systems for health care institutions such as hospitals and nursing homes. The purpose of reporting is to collect data on a broad range of events to detect systemic problems that can be altered to reduce the risk of patient harm. As of October 2003, 21 states had mandatory event reporting systems for hospitals, although policies varied.

Joel S. Weissman, Ph.D., of the Institute for Health Policy, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, and colleagues conducted a study to elicit the views of hospital executives with regard to mandatory state reporting systems and closely related issues of patient safety. The researchers surveyed chief executive and chief operating officers (CEOs/COOs) from randomly selected hospitals in 2 states with mandatory reporting and public disclosure, 2 states with mandatory reporting without public disclosure, and 2 states without mandatory systems in 2002-2003.

Responses were received from 203 of 320 hospitals (response rate=63 percent). The researchers found that most CEOs/COOs thought that a mandatory, nonconfidential system would discourage reporting of patient safety incidents to their hospital's own internal reporting system (69 percent) and encourage lawsuits (79 percent) while having no effect or a negative effect on patient sa

Contact: Emily Parker
JAMA and Archives Journals

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