Healthcare News & Insights

Error-free hospitals: Are you kidding?


Public health officials in one state are investigating 87 hospitals which haven’t filed a single report of a medical error in the past three years.

More than 20% of hospitals in California haven’t reported any instances of the 28 different kinds of medical errors state law requires them to disclose. Now, state officials have asked the hospitals to “review” their records to ensure everything has been reported.

Under the law, hospitals must report errors that put a patient at risk of serious injury or death, such as medication mistakes or leaving a foreign object in a patient. The hospital must report the incident within five days. Hospitals face fines of $100 per day for delaying reports. In addition, after investigating, the state can fine a hospital $50,000 for the first incident, $75,000 for the second error of the same type and $100,000 for the third and any subsequent errors.

Not all hospitals get fined: Of more than 1,100 errors reported to the state so far, only 112 resulted in fines — and 39 of those fines have been appealed. Another 66 hospitals have been fined for failure to report.

Are they under-reporting?

Patient advocates are, not surprisingly, concerned that some hospitals simply aren’t properly tracking and reporting errors — whether or not that’s deliberate is up for debate.

But a representative of the California Hospital Association said some of the hospitals listed as having no medical error reports filed with the state actually have filed reports.

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