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Government Wants Patients to Report Medical Mistakes

The federal government is planning to provide patients with the opportunity to report medical mistakes directly to them. Under the plan patients would be given a questionnaire that they can fill out and send back to the government whenever they are a victim of a medical mistake. The mistakes to be reported can be anything from a drug mistake, surgical error, infection or failure to properly diagnose or treat a condition. See http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/news/health/feds-want-patients-to-report-medical-provider-mistakes-654522.

Right now, insurance companies are required to report to the government when they settle lawsuits and pay money to patients, but this is the first time that patients will be able to report medical mistakes as soon as they happen to them. The federal government says they would like to have the information so they can analyze it and look for trends to help prevent such errors in the future.

Assuming the White House approves the project, the government hopes to get the project underway in May 2013. Questionnaires would be available at kiosks in hospitals and in doctor's offices. The government would publicize the program by sending pamphlets to patient's homes or distributing them through pharmacies.

We think it is a great idea that the government give patients the right to describe the problem they have had with doctor or hospital mistakes. It would give the government a good flavor for the wide variety of mistakes that happen in physician offices and in hospitals.

Doctors no doubt will criticize the program by saying that patients may report virtually anything, however minor or unrelated it is to medical care. That may be true in isolated cases, but overall it seems that the program will give the federal government some valuable information to track the types of mistakes which are being committed, who is making them, and what can be done to prevent them. After all, prevention is the ultimate name of the game.

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