Patients and families of patients possess a great deal of information about medical mistakes. Mistakes that may be overlooked by busy health care workers. Whereas doctors and nurses are only with the patient for a limited amount of time, families are with the patient continuously and often see what caused the error and may know what can be done to fix it.
Since patients and families often know things that doctors and nurses may not, the Obama administration would like patients and families to report mistakes and unsafe practices. The administration wants to use this information to make health care safer. Even some hospitals are receptive to the idea considering the concerns about medical malpractice liability as well as the possibility of financial penalties for poor performance.
Many health care mistakes go unreported, and patients often times have useful information that could be used to expose the reasons behind errors such as drug mix-ups, surgery on the wrong body part, radiation over doses, and multiple other problems. This information could potentially prevent injuries, infections, and deaths.
The questionnaire used to gather this information would ask for the name and address of the health care provider involved in the medical mistake. This questionnaire would also ask for permission to share what the patient reported with health care providers so they can learn from the patients experience and improve safety for future patients.
The government would also like to know the details of the incident, such as what happened, when, where, if there was harm, the type of harm, factors, and whether the patient reported the event and if so to whom. Additionally, it has been suggested that the information provided by these patient reports could be used to enhance reports from health care providers and give a more complete picture of the types of medical errors involved.
However patients are not always completely accurate in their perceptions. They may mischaracterize the outcome of a medical error due to their lack of medical knowledge in the area. Additionally, not all medical errors result in an actual injury but the information would still be important to prevent the same type of error that could result in an injury in the future.
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