Recent reports have shown that many hospitals in the United States have incredibly high injury and infection rates. The federal government stepped up and cut Medicare payments to 751 institutions out of 3,306 that were studied, fining them for these rates in an effort to increase safety.
Hospitals are supposed to self-report safety issues. However, when news of the fines broke, some reports noted that the statistics could get skewed a bit by surveillance bias.
For instance, at Hospital A, the staff takes a very legalistic approach and self-reports every incident. There are 100 of them during the year. At Hospital B, the staff takes a more negligent and laid-back approach. They report some incidents, but not everything. Over the same year, they report just 25 issues.
When mentioning this bias, experts were trying to shed light on why hospitals that are run the right way, putting safety first, may actually appear to be more dangerous. For patients, though, it's frightening to think that the opposite is also true. Hospitals feel safer than they really are.
After all, if you read the statistics when picking which institution to use, you're going with Hospital B. They only had 25 safety reports. Never mind that they actually had 150 incidents, and that most were swept under the rug. You don't know that, so you pick the wrong hospital and inadvertently increase your own risk when heading in for surgery.
As you can see, all of the research in the world cannot guarantee that you will not get injured in a hospital. When this happens due to negligence and medical malpractice, be sure you understand your legal rights, all of the options you have, and what types of financial compensation you may need moving forward.
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