3 Steps To Improving Medical Data Error Reporting

Kristine Martin Anderson, Kathryn Schulke, Booz Allen Hamilton | Government Health IT | January 7, 2013

As is often the case in life, we hope to learn from our mistakes, and not repeat them. The same could be said for our healthcare system. Each year, medical errors affect millions of Americans. Medical errors — some mild, others more severe — cost the healthcare system an estimated $17.29 billion in wasteful spending. Unfortunately, only a fraction of medical errors and near-misses are actually reported — whether systematically or anecdotally — by providers to healthcare organizations, state, or national regulators.

Why? Many estimate that the fear of retribution, possible litigation, or financial consequences creates significant barriers to accurately reporting medical error data. In addition, patchwork systems of reporting, compounded by a lack of awareness by providers on how or where to report error data, create a disconnected healthcare ecosystem. Regardless of the reason, insufficient medical error data reporting and surveillance limits critical understanding and insights for the healthcare system. More systematic sharing of data could lead to more effective interventions and improved care, helping to save lives and reduce healthcare costs...