Minnesota's Adverse Events Reporting System: Unnecessary Diversion of Dollars from Patient Care

Minneapolis/Saint Paul - Not everyone thinks government-mandated reporting of medical errors is a good idea. Citizens' Council on Health Care (CCHC) has looked at the statistics over the last three years and says, if anything, the reports continue to show how unnecessary the adverse events reporting system is.

CCHC further contends that the reporting requirements impose their own risks to patient care.

"The diversion of dollars from patient care to paperwork is its own patient safety issue, says Twila Brase, president of CCHC. "Hospitals are overburdened with costly paperwork and reporting requirements that compete with actual patient care. Rather than requiring these reports, the Minnesota Department of Health should be striving to decrease the administrative burdens they place on hospitals."

It's not even clear that hospitals are to blame for the adverse events they report, says Brase. "Blame for the 13 deaths cannot necessarily be laid on the hospitals. Could the nurse or doctor have prevented the death of the three individuals determined to commit suicide? Is a malfunction of a device the fault of the hospital or the manufacturer who made it? How and why did the four patients fall? Did they actually die from the fall, or was it from an unexpected heart attack as the patient walked to the bathroom?"

Legislators should reconsider the adverse event reporting mandate, Brase contends. "The mandate is a drain on dollars intended for patient care. At a time when hospitals are facing staffing shortages and health care premiums are sky-high, every minute and every health care dollar should be used for taking care of patients in an attempt to avoid medical errors, not collecting and reporting statistics to show how few there really are.

Brase further notes that 102 of the 125 reported adverse events were not serious and that the 10 "serious disability" cases may not be very serious either. State law defines a serious disability as :

"(1) a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of an individual or a loss of bodily function, if the impairment or loss lasts more than seven days or is still present at the time of discharge from an inpatient health care facility, or (2) loss of a body part."

She poses the following question, "If the impairment remains on day three when the patient leaves the hospital, but disappears on day four, would the public really think of it as a "serious disability?"

"Medicine will never be perfect, but hospitals are not the dangerous places that government officials claimed they were when this reporting system was put in place. As we race toward more severe staffing shortages and the impending Babyboomer bubble, government should not make the mistake of generating more medical errors by a system reportedly established to eliminate them," says Brase.

Twila Brase can be reached at 651-646-8935

Media Contact:

Twila Brase, President
Phone: 651-646-8935 (office)
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