Conn Bill to Require Public Disclosure of Hospital Errors

April 16, 2010

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal has backed a bill that will require hospitals in Connecticut to disclose publicly all adverse events that occur in their facilities. Previously, hospital errors were reported but specifics of the errors, including where they occurred, were never disclosed because of a confidentiality provision enacted in 2004 that allowed the health department to list the overall medical errors without naming a hospital.1

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal has backed a bill that will require hospitals in Connecticut to disclose publicly all adverse events that occur in their facilities. Previously, hospital errors were reported but specifics of the errors, including where they occurred, were never disclosed because of a confidentiality provision enacted in 2004 that allowed the health department to list the overall medical errors without naming a hospital.1

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal has backed a bill that will require hospitals in Connecticut to disclose publicly all adverse events that occur in their facilities. Previously, hospital errors were reported but specifics of the errors, including where they occurred, were never disclosed because of a confidentiality provision enacted in 2004 that allowed the health department to list the overall medical errors without naming a hospital.1

The bill-An Act Concerning Adverse Events at Hospitals and Outpatient Surgical Facilities-would require the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH), in an annual report, to detail adverse events and name the hospitals in which those events occurred. The bill would also give the DPH the authority to conduct random audits to determine compliance with reporting requirements and would provide whistleblower protections. Hospitals that fail to report an adverse event could be fined up to $10,000.

Only 5 other states-Colorado, Indiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Washington-have laws that require specific disclosure of adverse events. In a recent 12-month period in Connecticut, 247 adverse events were reported. Blumenthal believes that the “current law is a deadly and disgraceful failure, shielding hospitals and surgical centers from scrutiny and accountability and leaving patients in the dark.” He added, “Gaping legal loopholes keeping most hospital medical errors secret-including more than 116 that resulted in death between 2004 and the present-are unconscionable and unacceptable.”

Opponents of the bill include the Connecticut Hospital Association (CHA) and the DPH. Leslie Gianelli, spokeswoman for the CHA, said, “We really see it as a disincentive to improving patient care and patient safety. We object to the punitive nature of the bills; it’s about punishing, not about correcting mistakes.” Wendy Furniss, chief of the DPH’s Healthcare Systems Branch, opposes the bill as written because it does not provide any context for consumers. In other words, hospital-specific data would not account for differences in facility size and patient population. The DPH would rather release information on hospitals’ collective ability to reduce certain types of mistakes, such as falls and pressure ulcers, without having to disclose individual hospital errors.

References:

Reference
1. Lash D. Attorney General Richard Blumenthal promotes bill to require hospital-specific medical error reporting. Stamford Advocate. March 1, 2010. http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Attorney-General-Richard-Blumenthal-promotes-bill-386732.php. Accessed March 15, 2010.