We have covered numerous cases of hospital negligence in previous posts. Medical malpractice is a pervasive problem in the Boston area and unfortunately many of the most serious medical malpractice injuries are wholly avoidable. In an effort to improve patient outcomes and possibly avoid medical malpractice lawsuits a program has finally been designed to allow hospital workers to report dangerous situations that they observe before someone gets hurt.

An article published in Anesthesiology News indicates that 27 lives have probably been saved at John Hopkins hospital since the implementation of the program, entitled “The Good Catch Award.” The program seeks to catch systematic issues that may endanger patients by encouraging hospital workers to report unsafe conditions that may be harmful to patient. Fewer than 10 percent of the “near miss” situations resulted in patient harm but these incidents previously went unreported.

In one case a patient received the wrong medication and an investigation into the incident led to a recall of improperly labeled drugs. Medication errors can be extremely dangerous and this “good catch” probably saved many lives. Those running the Good Catch Award program will seek to compile data on all of the errors and make this data available to other hospitals so that those institutions can learn from the mistakes of others instead of putting more patients at risk. There are some concerns that increased transparency may spur more medical negligence lawsuits but the best way to avoid adverse patient outcomes seems to be making the many near misses known to all.

Source: Fierce Healthcare, “Hospital workers rewarded for reporting errors before they happen,” Sept. 12, 2011