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New database could eliminate some hospital errors

When patients in New Mexico fall victim to hospital errors, they often want the hospital to admit its mistakes and work to correct the problem. Recording and correcting problems that lead to hospital negligence benefits both patients and hospitals that want to avoid costly lawsuits.

Sometimes hospital errors can be deadly, but families of the victims may be reassured by a new online database that could prevent future incidences of hospital errors. In addition to the filing information in the database, the hospital that allegedly committed the mistake is now required to form a plan of action for preventing the same type of error in the future; however, the plans will not be available to the public. In the past, state and federal officials had regularly followed up on reported hospital negligence cases, but until now the information has never been compiled into a single database.

The database has a few limitations. It does not cover incidents at psychiatric hospitals or long-term care facilities; however, most hospital negligence cases, including operating room and medication errors, will be recorded in the database. The database includes reports from the beginning of 2011 and will likely be updated as more information is released.

The database only shows detailed reports for complaints that have been made to state and federal agencies. For this reason, it is important for patients to file a report when they are injured due to hospital errors and negligence. Hopefully, doctors and hospitals will use this information to prevent future mistakes. People who are victims of hospital negligence may want to seek the help of an attorney who can explain their rights.

Source: The Seattle Times, "New database reveals thousands of hospital violation reports," Christine Vestal, March 23, 2013

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