Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Poll Shows Most Americans Want Hospitals to Be Frank about Errors, Infections

When it comes to hospital safety, most Americans don't believe that ignorance is bliss. That information comes from a survey conducted by Consumer Reports, which shows that most Americans want hospitals to be upfront about errors and infection rates. The poll also suggests that Americans want to know how individual hospitals are faring when it comes to patient safety.

The poll, which was conducted by Consumer Reports National Research Center, had few surprises for Arizona medical malpractice attorneys. The poll found that more than three quarters of the respondents had high to moderate concerns about they or their family member being injured by a hospital-acquired infection. About 71% of respondents were also concerned about being injured or a family member being injured by a medication error. Approximately two thirds of respondents worried about surgical errors. 96% of the respondents believed that hospitals should be required to inform the state health department about medical errors that take place in their facilities. 82% believed that the public should have access to such information as well.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every year in the U.S., there are approximately 1.7 million hospital-acquired infections, and these cause approximately 90,000 deaths. Reducing hospital-acquired infections has posed an enormous challenge for hospitals. Many states have required hospitals to report their infection data. States like New Jersey have been proactive in making this information available to the public on a website.

A system that makes hospital error and infection data available to the public is a system that allows for more accountability by the hospital. In Arizona however, vested interests have succeeded in ensuring that safety information is not easily accessible to the public. The argument against open disclosure of hospital errors and infection numbers is that such open disclosure would place pressure on the hospital to deal with public perception of these numbers, rather than dealing with the problem itself.

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