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Should Hospitals Blog About Their Medical Errors?

Brigham and Women's Hospital takes a novel approach to medical errors – it discusses them on a public blog. The goal is to educate patients and health professionals as well as to help prevent similar mistakes.

Medical Error Transparency

More than 400,000 Americans die from preventable medical errors every year, according to the latest statistics. When it comes to disclosing mistakes, studies have shown that transparency increases patient safety, promotes accountability, and improves patient trust.

Nonetheless, in many cases, healthcare facilities are unwilling to acknowledge that a medical error has occurred. Many are afraid that full disclosure will lead to an increase in medical malpractice claims; however, studies have shown that liability costs decrease when hospitals implement medical error disclosure programs.

Blogging About Medical Mistakes

Even facilities that have procedures for reporting adverse events don’t go as far as Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Its Safety Matters blog details medical errors as well as near misses.

In its latest post, the hospital detailed a medication error that occurred, stating: “The dosage of a patient’s blood pressure medication was not verified during the medication reconciliation process, and the wrong dose was entered into the computer and given to the patient while she was in the hospital.” Other recent topics include a delayed diagnosis of hyperthyroidism due to misplaced lab tests, and a tubing misconnection error in an infant compounded by a communication breakdown with the patient’s family.

Each post details what caused the medical error and what the hospital is doing to prevent a similar mistake. Patient identifiers are eliminated to protect patient confidentiality.

While the blog was previously only available internally to Brigham and Women's staff, the hospital decided to make it public in 2015. "The end goal of all this is to make the care that we provide to patients safe," said Karen Fiumara, PharmD, the hospital's director of patient safety. "We really do owe it to our patients and families to be transparent with them and to be open and honest about what goes wrong and what we're doing to prevent errors in the future."

If you or someone you care about has suffered serious harm due to a medical mistake, you may be entitled to compensation, such as pain and suffering damages and reimbursement of medical expenses. For more information, please contact a San Diego medical malpractice lawyer at the Law Offices of Robert Vaage for a free consultation.