Washington is one of the only states in the nation to require mandatory reporting of medical errors. Since the law was enacted in 2006, however, only 52% of hospitals have reported any adverse events, and a total of 548 reports have been received, reports the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
According to the Post-Intelligencer, the Washington State Department of Health is canvassing hospitals to determine why so few have reported medical errors under a state law that says reporting is mandatory. The department may also randomly audit "adverse-event" logs at hospitals to determine if specific facilities are holding back from reporting medical errors to the state, according to an e-mail the department sent to hospital administrators and other healthcare professionals on Oct. 5.
A Hearst Newspaper investigation published in August highlighted the low reporting rate in Washington, along with other problems such as:
- The state legislature failed to appropriate enough money to hire a contractor, as required by law, to analyze medical error reports and suggest ways to prevent medical errors;
- The health department hasn't made any annual reports to the legislature on medical errors, as required by the law, because of the failure to hire a contractor;
- No Web site for reporting medical errors was created, as required by the law;
- The state's medical error reporting office is an under-funded one-person operation.