Most consumers believe they should have the right to know of potential hazards when making important decisions about a service – including services as important as their medical care. Unfortunately for patients in Pennsylvania, not all information about the quality of care at state medical facilities is readily available or accessible. This is because the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority, the agency which keeps stats on medical errors and related issues throughout the state, doesn’t allow patients to know the full details behind medical errors, including those resulting in injury or death.
The Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error Act, which became law in 2002, requires certain information regarding medical errors be kept confidential. Why? Officials state that by maintaining confidentiality and the Patient Safety Authority’s non-punitive stance, more medical facilities are willing to self-report information about “near-misses” and errors. The focus, officials claim, is to promote safety improvement rather than fear.
Under the MCare law, as the statute is known, various information is not transparent, including information regarding:
- The names of doctors and other involved health care providers from reports given to the Patient Safety Authority.
- Which and how many facilities or doctors the state Department of Health investigated for law violations.
- Whether the state took corrective action over a serious event.
Balancing patient safety, the quality of medical providers, and transparency is no easy task. In fact, current laws were created after considerable revisions. The ultimate problem, many lawmakers and officials in the health care community claim, is that medical science is not infallible and that more errors will occur as medicine expands and more people interact with it. For patients, improving quality of care is always important. The difficulty rests with how and what information should be shared.
Although there are differing views on public reporting over medical errors, the fact remains that all healthcare providers have a duty to treat patients according to accepted standards of care. When they fail to do so or otherwise act negligently, they can be held liable for damages victims suffer.
At Shrager & Sachs, our Philadelphia medical malpractice lawyers have considerable experience helping injured patients and their families learn more about their rights and the medical malpractice claim process. If you believe your injuries or the injuries of your loved one were cause by the failures or negligence of a medical professional, our team is available to review your case during a FREE consultation. Contact us today to discuss your case!