Are Hospitals Less Safe Than We Think? – Newsweek and The Daily Beast

A somewhat frightening article on medical errors and the culture that allows them to continue (while written in the US context, this is likely not just a US issue). Overall recommendation: require transparency on health outcomes by hospital and naming names. Quote:

But there is a solution: if any of this information—lists of sanctioned doctors, or employee-safety surveys, or hospital readmission rates—were made fully public, positive results would reverberate throughout the health-care system. The effect would likely be a global reduction in patient harm and a rise in customer satisfaction. We know that because it has been done—once.

In the early 1990s, New York state set out to address the horrific patterns of bad outcomes that health officials had heard about in some of the state’s heart hospitals. Mark Chassin, who became health commissioner in 1992, didn’t want to just slap wrists. Instead, he and his team did something radical: they made heart-surgery death rates public. Instantly, New York heart hospitals with high mortality rates scrambled to improve. Hospital executives held meetings with heart surgeons, nurses, and techs to find out what they had to do to improve quality and safety. At one hospital, the staff reported that a surgeon wasn’t fit to be operating; his mortality rate was so high it was skewing the hospital’s average. His hospital administrators ordered him, point-blank, to stop doing heart surgery.

Are Hospitals Less Safe Than We Think? – Newsweek and The Daily Beast.


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