Negligent Security Seminar | March 2015

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Move Is On To Force Secret Hospital Inspections to be Made Public starstarstarstarstar

Medical mistakes are the third leading cause of death in the United States. As many as 400,000 Americans lose their lives to preventable medical errors.  In a bold new move, The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is trying to get private health care accreditors to disclose problems they discover during inspections of hospitals and medical facilities.  Although CMS conducts some inspections, most are performed by private industry groups.

In the past, inspections by CMS did not identify patients or medical staff by name but did provide details of  the medical errors found. These included medication mistakes, wrong patient or wrong site surgeries, and other patient abuse.  The private accrediting organizations such as  The Joint Commission have refused to make public their findings following inspections, which has resulted in inconsistent disclosure of medical errors. The CMS proposal is an attempt to solve this problem.

According to CMS, “We believe it is important to continue to lead the effort to make information regarding a health care facility’s compliance with health and safety requirements” publicly available.

However, the Joint Commission is an organization paid by the very medical providers it is  claiming to inspect and accredit.  For many years it has been criticized for failing to take action in the face of poor medical care or repeat violations.  Many have claimed that the Joint Commission has put the interests of the hospitals that pay them ahead of patient safety. In 2002, the Chicago Tribune reported how The Joint Commission accredited “medical centers riddled by life-threatening problems and underreporting of patient deaths due to infections and hospital errors.”

Just this month BuzzFeed News reported that the Joint Commission listed an Oklahoma psychiatric hospital as a “Top Performer in Key Quality Measures” despite police records, state inspection reports and litigation records that showed that it “is a profoundly troubled facility where frequent violence endangers patients and staff alike, where children as young as 5 are separated from their parents and held in dangerous situations, and where wards lack adequate staffing and staff lack adequate training.”

Therein lies the problem with private accreditation and inspections.  The industry-captive Joint Commission, and other similar organizations, are simply trade groups who are funded by the very institutions they are claiming to review, inspect and accredit.

Public comments may be made regarding the CMS proposal until June 13, 2017 through the CMS website.

Leighton Law continues to fight for victims of medical malpractice throughout the state of Florida.  Located in Miami and Orlando, Leighton Law has consistently obtained some of the largest verdicts and settlement in medical mistake cases, including record-setting awards on behalf of our clients.

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