Feds Will Release Hospital Mistake Data Again After Outcry From Researchers, Patients

Last month, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services stopped releasing information on hospital mistakes, but public outcry and demand for the data has caused them to reverse course. According to USA Today:

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.

Hospitals have lobbied against release, obviously for liablity issues, but the data are invaluable to consumers tracking health outcomes for surgeries and treatments at different providers. The fact that hospitals are against it is an indicator that openness in the data keeps the providers themselves honest. Big health companies would like nothing more than to shirk some responsibility to save a little cash. Too bad it comes at the expense of the patient who's treatment went awry.

There is growing pressure on regulators and hospitals to be more forthcoming about safety and pricing. Increased transparency was one of the three health care policy recommendations issued by the CEO group Business Roundtable last week.

So it's good business in a long-term sense, and short-term it's great for researchers who need the information to track and improve outcomes, and fantastic for patients whose lives depend on it.

According to Lenny LeClair, who, after doctors left a surgical sponge in his abdomen, has had chronic pain and multiple surgeries:

"It should be public knowledge," LeClair said. "If I had had that option, God only knows what I would have found out."


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