According to a USA TODAY report, federal regulators will resume publicly releasing data on hospital medical errors, including when foreign objects are left in patients’ bodies or people get the wrong blood type.
This resurrection of transparency comes after a lengthy hiatus by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), in which they stopped publicly reporting a number of life-threatening medical errors that were made by hospitals.
Apparently the informative data was removed last summer from CMS’ hospital comparison website. The data was substituted for a spreadsheet document which contained little context, thus making it very difficult for an ordinary individual seeking general information on hospital errors to understand. Now, however, data on eight hospital-acquired conditions (HACs) will be made available on its website, according to CMS. HAC refers to an undesirable situation or condition that affects a patient that arose during a stay in a hospital or medical facility.
Before the data was removed, the Hospital Compare website listed how often many hospital-acquired conditions occurred at thousands of acute-care hospitals in the United States. Essentially, acute-care hospitals refer to hospitals at which patients stay up to 25 days for treatment of severe condition or while recovering from surgery. After the change, CMS merely reported the rate of occurrence for 13 conditions, including infections such as MRSA and sepsis after surgery, excluding other important information, like the number of instances in which a sponge was left in a patient’s body.
In the spring of 2013, USA TODAY reported that foreign objects may be retained after surgery twice as often as the government estimates, or up to 6,000 times a year. Sponges, which can embed in intestines, account for more than two-thirds of all incidents. For patients who survive, the complications can last a lifetime, leading some to lose parts of their intestines.
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