Attorneys

Agency’s decision makes it more difficult to find the best hospital

A federal agency has made it more difficult for the public to access the rate of “never events” in hospitals nationwide.

When you have a serious medical condition, you understandably want the best care available. Like most others in your position, you rely on Internet research to find the best hospital with the lowest number of medical errors. However, many hospitals do not publish such data, fearing a loss of business, if their past medical and surgical errors were made known. As a result, it can be difficult to find this information.

A particularly useful website, however is The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). This website, until recently, included a hospital comparison tool that disclosed each hospital's rate of "never events." As the name suggests, these errors are ones that should never happen. They include serious and life-threatening errors such as leaving a foreign object in a patient after surgery, giving the patient the wrong type of blood and allowing air embolisms-fatal air bubbles in the blood-to develop in patients during treatment.

These "never events" constitute some of the most serious dangers to patients seeking treatment in hospitals. According to a 2012 study by Johns Hopkins University, never events occur in American hospitals well over 4,000 times each year, causing death and serious injuries to almost every patient affected. Since the CMS website included the never event data in its comparison tool, it was an invaluable tool for allowing patients to identify the hospitals where they would have the least chance of facing a never event or other types of hospital negligence or medical malpractice.

Unfortunately, in August 2014, the CMS made it more difficult to uncover this vital data. The agency opted during this time to remove the data regarding never events from its hospital comparison rankings and from the hospital comparison tool itself, claiming that the data was not sufficient reliable to "penalize" hospitals on the comparison tool.

Since this time, fortunately, the CMS has reversed course, recently announcing that it will once again provide the never events data later this year. Unfortunately for consumers however, the CMS announced that the data would not return to the user-friendly hospital comparison tool. Instead, the data will only be available as a publicly accessible spreadsheet compiled for patient safety advocates, researchers and other experts. Sadly, this means that the information will be in a form that is incomprehensible to the majority of medical consumers.

If injured, consult an attorney

The CMS' decision is unfortunate, given that easily preventable medical and surgical errors are a significant source of patient deaths and injuries each year. Sadly, since such errors are often committed multiple times by the same institution, the hospital comparison tool easily allowed patients to avoid institutions where a serious mistake was more likely to occur.

If you or a loved one suspect such an error occurred during your stay in a hospital, it is important to seek the advice of an experienced medical malpractice attorney. An attorney can ensure that the cause of the injury or death is determined after a thorough investigation. Once the cause has been identified, an attorney can advise you further on your right to compensation under New York law.

Keywords: never events, medical malpractice