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Medical Errors Tracked but Not Reported in PA

Posted on August 1, 2016

Last year, 253 people died in Pennsylvania due to medical errors. The state tracks them, knows the medical facilities responsible, but will not share that information with the public, reported the Pottstown Mercury News in a recent article.

The Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority is the agency tasked with monitoring safety at hospitals, care homes and other medical facilities throughout the state. They send reports to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, which reviews them for serious events, infrastructure breakdowns, and whether any laws were broken. The Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error Act (MCare) protects this information in these reports from public dissemination. Even the names of the medical providers who made the mistakes are omitted from the records collected.

The data is only used as part of statistics, such as how “ninety-seven percent of the roughly 239,000 incidents recorded in 2015 were ‘near misses,’ lapses in safety protocol that were noticed, but did not harm a patient,” according to the piece.

In the article, Dr. Rachel Levine, state physician general, noted the reason behind the policy of not sharing information: “A medical facility’s safety officer, usually a nurse, should feel comfortable reporting all the incidents he or she is mandated to report to the authority without thinking it could come back to harm his or her employer.”

It was also mentioned in the report that researchers at Johns Hopkins University estimate that medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the U.S., behind heart disease and cancer.

If you suspect you or a loved one were the subject of a medical error, contact us for a free consultation.