3 Reasons Why Hospital Transparency is Good for Patient Safety
Earlier this week, we discussed the tragic deaths that occurred at St. Mary’s Medical Center. CNN’s investigation shows that from 2011 to 2013, the hospital maintained a death rate of 12.5 percent for its pediatric heart surgery program. If parents had known about the high death rate, would they have chosen another hospital?
Transparency can help parents and patients select the best hospitals, give health care workers access to information on errors, and help create better safety policies.
- Access to information: If medical mistakes were more transparent, health care workers could avoid repeating the same errors in the future. For example, if a Florida doctor confused the names of two similarly spelled medications while writing a prescription, and it led to an adverse event, other doctors elsewhere would have the necessary information to avoid making the same mistake. Health care workers could also hold each other accountable and speak up after witnessing mistakes.
- Hospital selection: What if the public had access to data on hospital errors and patient safety? The parents at St. Mary’s Medical Center might have chosen a different hospital had they known of the high death rate for infant heart surgery patients. Public accountability can also encourage hospitals improve their own safety standards to acquire more business.
- Better hospital policies: Public access to medical mistakes would allow the press and nonprofits to review information necessary to help create better hospital policies. With the proper information on why certain medical errors occur, the public and organizations could put pressure on lawmakers to improve patient safety in specific areas.
Hospital Transparency Can Save Lives
Perhaps in the near future, tragedies like the deaths that occurred at St. Mary’s Medical Center will become very rare. Had parents known the hospital had a death rate several times higher than other institutions in Florida, it is likely they would have taken their business elsewhere.
We need transparency to hold hospitals accountable for medical mistakes and to encourage our health care institutions to strive for patient safety.