The U.S. government has removed public access to data that previously disclosed life-threatening hospital errors.
The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) retained a list of avoidable errors, which was called "hospital acquired conditions" (HACs). This data was available for public access on the agency's Hospital Comparison website. However, the list is no longer accessible to the public who can possibly research about a hospital before taking a decision to get treated in the facility.
Instances such as a foreign object being left in a patient during a surgery, wrong-type of blood given to people and many such life-threatening hospital errors appeared on the database.
In 2013, CMS removed eight of the avoidable HACs from its Hospital Comparison website. However, CMC still kept a spreadsheet of the HACs, which was available to patient advocates, special researchers and people who can understand them. A recent report suggests that this spreadsheet has now been removed.
The Hospital Comparison website now provides details of only 13 conditions, which includes the rate of diseases contracted by a patient after a surgery. Aaron Albright, who is a CMS spokesman, says that the new data available on the comparison site is per the advice received from National Quality Forum (NQF), which is a non-profit organization dedicated to improve healthcare service that also evaluates performance measurements. Albright says that the new data available on the Hospital Comparison website is "most relevant to consumers."
"NQF's mission is to improve the quality of healthcare. Patient safety is central to achieving our mission. We know that reducing harm and preventable medical errors saves lives and lowers healthcare costs, a goal shared by everyone that touches the healthcare system," reads a NQF patient safety statement.
A NQF spokesperson says that it is not appropriate to compare hospitals, but some experts believe that it is a consumer's right to access HACs information and NQF should not advise CMS to remove the HACs from their comparison site.
CMC says that there are many surgeries that take place in a hospital on a regular basis. However, the percentage of errors is very rare. CMC revealed that it is working on a new set of measurements, which will record hospital errors.
Nancy Foster, quality and patient-safety vice president for the American Hospital Association, points out that details of a mistake reported by a hospital should be accurate and reliable or it does not benefit consumers or hospitals.