The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has stopped reporting instances when hospitals made life-threatening errors.
The federal government has limited public access to information about medical errors.
According to USA Today, CMS denied making this change last year, but it means that people cannot search out hospitals with higher than normal incidents of medical issues such as air embolisms or giving people the wrong blood type in transfusions.
Originally, CMS had removed data on eight of the avoidable "hospital acquired conditions" (HACs) but the information remained on spreadsheets available to the public. This month though, that data was also removed meaning researchers must now calculate their own numbers using claims data.
CMS has continued to report the rate of occurrence for 13 conditions such as MRSA and sepsis, but has removed others.
According to CMS spokesman Aaron Albright in an emailed statement, it changed what it reports to make it "more comprehensive and most relevant to consumers."
He also said the measures were supported by the National Quality Forum, but members of the group say they thought they were voting to strengthen the measures, not drop them.
"When we voted, I certainly didn't that it would results in the HACs being removed from Hospital Compare," said patient-safety advocate Helen Haskell.
Under the Affordable Care Act, 25 percent of the hospitals with the highest rates of errors and HACs receive 1 percent less in Medicare reimbursement than other hospitals. It is supposed to incentivize hospitals to decrease the amount of conditions such as post-surgery sepsis.
Physicians occasionally make mistakes such as leaving surgical items in the body, and the results can be disastrous and even fatal. The federal government is now no longer required to report these instances which can happen 4,500 to 6,000 times a year.
Some experts insist that consumers should be allowed access to the information.
"People deserve to know if the hospital down the street from them had a disastrous event and should be able to judge for themselves whether that's a reasonable indicator of the safety of that hospital," said Leah Binder, CEO of the Leapfrog Group, a group that issues hospital safety ratings.