Hospitals fail to document nearly half of all family-reported medical errors, study finds

Brian Zimmerman - Print  | 

Medical errors and adverse reactions to treatment noticed and reported by family members may go undocumented, according to a new study published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

For the study, researchers surveyed the parents or caregivers of 717 hospitalized patients 17 years and younger being treated at four U.S. pediatric centers from December 2014 to July 2015. In total, 185 families reported 225 errors. Researchers categorized 132 incidents as safety issues, 102 as quality issues not linked to safety and 21as incidents involving other problems. The rate of error reporting was 16 percent higher when familial reports were included. Also, the overall rate of adverse events was 10 percent higher with family reporting.

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However, 49 percent of family-reported errors and 24 percent of family-reported adverse events were not listed in the hospital's medical record.

"Our results suggest that whether we are talking about safety surveillance research or operational hospital quality improvement and safety tracking efforts, families should be included in safety reporting," Alisa Khan, MD, a researcher at Harvard Medical School in Boston and the study's lead author, told Reuters Health.

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