Over the years, we have discussed many health care related issues on our
blog, including those involving
medical malpractice. We have also written many posts discussing proposed rules and legislative
changes in the health care industry that harm patients, their rights,
and their safety. Recently, a new proposed rule change that would put
an end to public reporting of certain infections acquired in hospitals
has been making headlines, and is being criticized for its potential impact
on public safety.
The newly proposed rule change is part of the Centers for Medicare and
Medicaid Services (CMS) plan. Under the proposed legislation, federal
regulators would no longer report on hospital infections, including serious
infections and other accidents and injuries, including:
- The “super bug” MRSA
- Post-operative sepsis
- Surgical site infections
- Patient injuries / infections ranging from bedsores to respiratory failure
- Never events (preventable medical errors that should never happen)
If the proposed rule is approved and finalized, the CMS website won’t
disclose data on infections or safety measures. That’s because doing
so would require that data to be part of a program the current Presidential
administration states hospitals should no longer use to report safety issues.
Impact on Public Safety
The suggested change has been criticized widely by patient health and safety
advocates, many of whom site alarming data on hospital infections and
their impact on public safety. As they argue, more than 600,000 hospital
patients contract an infection each year in the U.S., and many of those
cause profound suffering, long-term injuries, and even death. For example,
sepsis alone accounts for 270,000 deaths a year.
With infection rates as concerning as these, and continued concerns over
preventable errors, many are troubled by a proposed rule that would reverse
course on progress made in fighting these infections and the issues that
commonly cause them. As with many preventable injuries or illnesses, public
access to information and data is critical to understanding the true scope
of a problem, its common causes, and how to best prevent injuries and
deaths that could and should be prevented. Advocates are also concerned
that approving a change to revert these efforts could prompt further changes
that limit transparency moving forward.
Health Care Policies
In the past, we have discussed many proposed ruled that impact federal
health care policies. Like many proposed changes before, the new CMS proposed
rule is one that fails to take public safety into account, and which is
fueled more by corporations, money, and lobbying than real, reasonable
concerns for the health of patients. This was precisely the case in recent
rule changes that
reversed a CMS ban on forced arbitration, allowing nursing homes to include
mandatory arbitration clauses in resident contracts. That change, as many argued, tips the scales in
favor of corporations, and keeps information about preventable injuries,
deaths, and major safety concerns out of the public’s eye.
By passing the new rule, important information about serious infections,
as well as serious medical errors and acts of malpractice, would go unreported.
The change would also incentivize hospitals to simply not report serious
infections and errors, as they are currently required to do so, in order
to avoid penalties. For many, these changes are unacceptable not only
because they put patients’ lives at risk, but also because they
provide fewer opportunities to hold medical providers accountable for
errors and negligence.
Fighting for Patient Safety
At Shrager & Sachs, our Philadelphia lawyers are passionate about protecting
the rights of victims and families who suffer harm as a result of negligence,
including medical negligence. In addition to fighting on behalf of patients
and their loved ones following harm caused by medical malpractice, we
also believe in the importance of preventing the safety problems that
lead to those preventable mistakes and injuries in the first place –
often through tougher legislation for things like mandatory reporting
requirements. Doing away with those important rules subjects everyone
to greater risks, and makes the fight for accountability in cases where
infections and errors do occur tougher for victims.
While protests continue and awareness is raised about the new proposed
rule, our legal team continues to make ourselves available to victims
and families in need. If you wish to discuss a potential medical malpractice
or personal injury case, we invite you to
contact us for a free consultation.