Every year, approximately 200,000 Americans die from preventable medical errors, and oftentimes patients are unaware of a medical facility’s safety record because only a small percentage of the government’s information was shared with the public.
As of October 1, 2010, Senate Bill 248, an act concerning adverse events at hospitals and outpatient surgical facilities became Public Act 10-122, which has been described as a landmark patients’ protection bill.
This law expands disclosure about medical mistakes, adds protection for whistleblowers who report medical errors and, as of July 1, requires mandatory mediation for all medical malpractice lawsuits that allege negligence in cases of personal injury or wrongful death.
Other provisions of the bill require the state Department of Public Health to submit an annual report that would have to include aggregate information about medical errors incurred at each hospital.
Under this new law, the department must give patients access to information if they have filed complaints of medical negligence, fraud, incompetence or deceit against health care providers. The department is also required to keep patients updated with the status of their complaints and give them the opportunity to review their file records and comment on any proposed resolution.
In signing the bill into law, Gov. Jody Rell said, “It’s about transparency. It’s about scrutiny, and it’s about accountability. The hope is that being more open about medical errors will encourage education within hospitals and other medical facilities and will help prevent further mistakes, and the new law is an important step in encouraging medical personnel to speak up for safety.”
This legislation evolved as a result of a national investigation of fatal -but preventable- hospital errors. The investigation uncovered widespread preventable medical errors and the failure of both medical professionals and the government to provide oversight of these problems.
Since 2004, when Connecticut adopted national guidelines for medical events that needed to be reported, hospitals in the state have had 1,056 adverse events resulting in an average of 240 a year with 107 deaths documented.