According to a study released today by the Office of the Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, approximately 86% of adverse events experienced by patients go unreported, never finding their way into the databases of incident reporting systems.
Hospital administrators interviewed for the purposes of the study said that the adverse events not captured by these special incident reporting systems were not believed to be reportable. Unreported incidents, which even included those resulting in the death of a patient, included mostly hospital-acquired infections, as well as four cases of excessive bleeding due to the administration of anticoagulants.
The OIG’s study goes on to recommend that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services partner with the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality in order to create a master list of the potentially reportable adverse events hospital staff and healthcare providers may encounter. This master list could be used to eliminate any questions, confusion or uncertainty with regard to whether or not an incident is worthy of being reported. Presently, the three main organizations that accredit hospitals do not have a standardized list of reportable patient adverse events.