New Jersey requires disclosure of hospital errors

Gov. Jon Corzine (D) yesterday signed legislation that will require the state Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) to publish hospital-specific data on 14 preventable errors, such as wrong-site and wrong-patient surgery.

According to the Governor's website, the department previously published only the aggregate number of errors at facilities across the state. The legislation prohibits hospitals from charging consumers or insurers for a narrower list of serious medical errors. The 2009 New Jersey Hospital Performance Report, which will be published later this year, will be the first to include the new data.

The bill, S2471/A1264, requires the Department of Health and Senior Services to publish in its annual New Jersey Hospital Performance Report hospital-specific results on  measures of patient safety.  These measures, which have been endorsed by national experts, include such serious adverse events as objects left inside patients during surgery, accidental cuts and punctures to patients, or hip fractures suffered in a post-surgery fall. 

The 2009 New Jersey Hospital Performance Report released later this year will be the first to include the newly available patient safety data.  This is the latest in a series of initiatives to improve health care quality through public reporting on performance and health outcomes.  Cardiac Surgery in New Jersey - which reports on patient mortality rates and other performance measures for both hospitals and individual cardiac surgeons - has helped reduce cardiac bypass surgery mortality by more than 50 percent since reporting began.

(SOURCES: Advisory Board Daily Briefing, http://advisory.com, September 2, 2009; New Jersey Governor website, http://state.jn.us/governor, accessed September 14, 2009)