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The premier resource for hospital professionals from Relias Media, the trusted source for healthcare information and continuing education.

A new way to report medical mistakes?

A new player could be emerging on the field of patient safety reports and rankings. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality is seeking approval from the White House for a questionnaire that would allow patients to report medical mistakes.

The New York Times reports that AHRQ director Carolyn Clancy, MD, is seeking approval for the questionnaire because “currently there is no mechanism for consumers to report information about patient safety events.”

If approved, patients and their families will be able to report adverse events online or via telephone. Details would include what the mistake was, where and when it occurred, name of staff involved, and whether harm was caused. The questionnaire also asks why the mistake was made, and lists the following possible reasons:

  • “A doctor, nurse or other health care provider did not communicate well with the patient or the patient’s family.”
  • “A health care provider didn’t respect the patient’s race, language or culture.”
  • “A health care provider didn’t seem to care about the patient.”
  • “A health care provider was too busy.”
  • “A health care provider didn’t spend enough time with the patient.”
  • “Health care providers failed to work together.”
  • “Health care providers were not aware of care received someplace else.”
Reports would then be analyzed by RAND Corporation and ECRI Institute researchers.

Reaction so far has been mixed, with some doctors open to the idea. American Hospital Association vice president Nancy E. Foster told the Times that “it’s a great concept” and “the idea is welcome.” The American Medical Association is saving comment until the details have been studied. Dr. Kevin J. Bozic of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons is concerned about patients mistaking an outcome as adverse if they don’t have specific medical knowledge, and stresses the importance of checking patient reports with medical records. Dr. Eric Postal expressed concerns in a blog post that questionnaire options lay blame at the feet of healthcare workers and don’t take other factors into account.

What do you think? Is patient reporting a welcome addition, or could it open the door for more liability?