MD’s & Nurses are Mandated to Disclose Medical Errors at Time of Occurrence

State law usually enacts mandatory reporting systems. These systems are put in place to make sure that certain medical and surgical errors are properly reported.  Most mandates require reporting of specific errors like adverse events causing patients harm or unanticipated outcomes.

Mandates are there for protection of the patient. It’s important for the error to be reported at the time of occurrence as it can potentially prevent the same errors from happening in the future and improve patient care standards.

However, not all physicians and nurses are required to report errors such as near misses, errors that are intercepted before harm occurs or errors that did not cause harm.  But, that does not mean that these errors are any less important to report, than those that do cause harm. Voluntary reports can be imperative for creating safety initiatives that will improve overall care and may reveal hidden dangers that other physicians and nurse may be able to avoid in the future.

Physicians and nurses are faced with four major deterrents to reporting errors; fear of career threatening disciplinary action, fear of punishment and embarrassment, variations in how errors are defined and what should and shouldn’t be reported and the fear that error reports are difficult to fill out and rarely get feedback to improve systems.

 According to an article/report from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services by AHRQ, “Several factors are necessary to increase error reporting: having leadership committed to patient safety; eliminating a punitive culture and institutionalizing a culture of safety; increasing reporting of near misses; providing timely feedback and follow up actions and improvements to avert future errors; and having a multidisciplinary approach to reporting.”

It’s very important to provide a system that encourages health care providers to not only fill out the mandatory error reports but also all errors that could lead to an improved quality of care.  Without these reports health care providers are doomed to keep repeating the mistakes of the past and their peers. 

Related Articles & Resources:
Patient Safety and Medical Errors Report     

Physicians Want to Learn from Medical Mistakes but Say Current Error-Reporting Systems are Inadequate

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