Preventable Deaths and Other ‘Adverse Events’ in Hospitals: News Reports on the Problem Include Murky Official Data

scary doctors 783 x 369_iSTwo separate TV news reports on California hospitals have put a spotlight on “adverse events” ranging from relatively minor discomforts to preventable deaths – reportedly the third-highest cause of fatalities in the United States, trailing only heart attacks and cancer.

“Hospitals in California have reported 6,282 adverse events to the state in the last four fiscal years. They range from ‘death associated with an error,’ to ‘stage 3 or 4 decubitus ulcer,’ or bedsores. However, the state has no way of ensuring that every hospital is reporting every error that occurs,” the NBC Bay Area Investigative Team reported.

“A half-dozen medical experts told NBC Bay Area they believe not all hospitals report adverse events to the state. And there is no mechanism to ensure that they do.”

Adverse events must be reported to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).

Sacramento ABC affiliate News10 conducted its own lengthy investigation into the issue, focusing on its geographic broadcast market.

“The basic records of these incidents can be found on the CDPH website, but the full narrative is much harder to come by. News10 submitted a California Public Records Act request and waited two months to obtain less than 30 full reports from the CDPH.”

Link to the NBC Bay Area package here; link to the News10 package here. Each includes video, text narratives, interactive databases and other resources.

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