Patient Safety Initiatives in Maryland and Oregon are Showing Signs of Success

Pharmacy and medication errors in hospitals and elsewhere in the health care system create substantial risks to patients, along with errors in diagnosis and treatment, equipment problems, and others. State governments often work to promote and improve protection of patient safety in health care. Oregon, as an example, has taken a step towards improving patient safety by encouraging self-monitoring and reporting by hospitals, doctors, and pharmacies statewide. The Oregon Legislature passed a bill in 2003 that created the Oregon Patient Safety Commission, a collaboration between the health care industry and state agencies to prevent medical errors. The state estimates that, last year, at least 34 deaths throughout Oregon resulted from medical errors. The program encourages the submission of detailed reports on medical errors to the Commission, which compiles the data and keeps track of statistics and trends.

Oregon has 58 community hospitals, and all of them have agree to submit reports. Most of the state’s hospitals have been reporting since the program started in 2007, and only two hospitals were still holding out as of last year. According to the Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems, hospitals are reporting errors at a rate to similar to that in states that mandate reporting. The system is far from perfect, though. Because of its voluntary nature, hospitals do not always provide patients with notifications of errors, even if they report those errors to the state. Hospitals also do not report every error known to have occurred.

Pharmacies and surgical centers in Oregon have some catching up to do. According to an investigation by the Oregonian newspaper, the state’s pharmacy board receives about 600 complaints per year, but the Commission only received six error reports from pharmacies between the fall of 2008 and the summer of 2011. About half of Oregon’s licensed surgical centers have agreed to participate with the Commission, and of those who have agreed, only two-thirds actually reported anything in the past year.

Maryland has a similar system, known as the Maryland Patient Safety Center. The Legislature established it in 2003 to partner with the health care industry to promote patient safety. The state’s Health Care Commission redesignated it in 2008 as Maryland’s official patient safety organization for a five-year period ending in 2014. The Center operates the Adverse Event Reporting System, which sounds similar to the Oregon program. It studies “patterns and trends related to medical errors and near misses that occur in healthcare facilities.” The Center states on its website that that 85% of Maryland hospitals are participating in the Adverse Event Reporting System. It further states that it has trained over 9,000 health care workers on issues related to patient safety, and that its procedures have saved at least 140 lives and over $40 million in costs since 2004. Preventing all medication and pharmacy errors is likely impossible, but programs such as the ones in Maryland and Oregon are a good start.

Maryland pharmacy error attorneys Lebowitz & Mzhen help people who have been injured due to medication errors to assess liability and recover damages for those injuries. Contact a lawyer today for a free consultation to review your case.

Web Resources:

Maryland Patient Safety Center Redesignated by State Commission to be Maryland’s Patient Safety Organization, Maryland Patient Safety Center press release, November 24, 2008
Oregon Patient Safety Commission home page

More Blog Posts:

“Good Catch” Program Hopes to Encourage the Reporting of Pharmacy Errors Before They Occur, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, September 20, 2011
Reducing Medication Error Injury by Keeping Health Record Journals, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, August 30, 2011
The Benefits and Problems of Electronic Medical Records Systems, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, August 10, 2011

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