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New System for Patients to Report Medical Mistakes

By Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo Plotkin & Hellman LLP

By: Leana Shishakova

The Obama administration wants consumers to report malpractice.

A darted flier by the government asks, “Have you recently experienced a medical mistake? Do you have concerns abut the safety of your health care?” Then, it asks the consumer to contact a new “consumer reporting system for patient safety.”

Currently there is “no mechanism for consumer to report information about patient safety events” states Dr. Carolyn M. Clancy, the director of the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. This prototype has gained favor with hospitals and even some doctors stating that the “idea is welcome.”

Others are not as easily sold on the idea: Dr. Kevin J. Bozic, chairman of the Council on Research and Quality at the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons believes that it is important that each critique made by a patient should be matched to their medical records. Patients might make false claims due to their minimal medical knowledge, such as “I had an infection after surgery” because the wound was red, but most red wounds are not infected.

Customer groups are welcoming Obama’s plan. They believe this program will report the medical errors and near misses through a Web site and in telephone interviews.

This program has already cleared the White House and health officials are hoping to start collecting data in May. The questionnaires will be available at kiosks in hospitals and doctors’ office. Fliers will be available in pharmacies explaining the project and will be mailed to patience by their healthcare providers.

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