Are private hospitals putting profits over patient safety?
In 1999, the Institute of Medicine revealed that medical errors are the leading cause of death and injuries in U.S. hospitals. The group estimated that up to 98,000 people die annually because of dangerous and deadly mistakes.
Reports released since then show the number to be growing with serious problems coming from private accreditor-operated facilities that make up nine out of ten hospitals.
In what is considered a groundbreaking proposal from The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, federal healthcare officials want private hospitals and other medical facilities to publicly disclose problems uncovered during inspections and the steps they are taking to fix them.
In 2014, officials inspected 103 acute-care hospitals reviewed by an accreditor in the previous 60 days. They found 41 serious deficiencies where the accrediting organizations only found two. The shocking disparity raised concerns regarding their ability to identify and cite health and safety deficiencies during inspections.
Subsequent government inspection reports provided detailed descriptions of shortcomings that took the form of medication errors, operations on the wrong patient or the wrong body part, and patient abuse.
The Current Scenario
Recent findings are tragically nothing new. For several years, accusations of accreditors putting the interests of paying facilities ahead of patient safety have continued. According to a 2002 Chicago Tribune investigation, medical centers identified to have life-threatening problems that included patient deaths from errors still received The Joint Commission’s seal of approval.
The Joint Commission, Healthcare Facilities Accreditation Program and American Hospital Association provided qualified support at best but expressed concerns over the ramifications of full disclosure.
Perhaps their concerns should be redirected to the patients in their facilities.
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