Secret Hospital Inspections to Finally See the Light of Day? Don’t Hold Your Breath

The U.S. government is considering requiring that hospital inspection details be available to the public. Until that happens, what really goes on behind closed doors is keep quite secret.  When it comes to your local hospital, as of now, you have no right to know who is dying . . . or why.

It appears that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is pushing to mandate a new level of transparency, when it comes to hospital dangers discovered by health inspection findings. Private health accreditation companies actually perform 90% of all U.S. hospitals and clinics assessments. That healthcare accreditors might ever release their findings to the public would be a remarkably refreshing change from the status quo.

Under this law – a law which may not get passed at all – U.S. citizens could get a look at reports which are now kept secret, about dangerous medical errors, patient misidentification and surgical errors, that kill and/or seriously injure 400-600 patients each day. 

Each year, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services studies at least some of the inspection results gathered by private organizations. In effect, they inspect the inspections.  And last year CMS discovered that the privately funded inspection companies often completely missed serious in-hospital “danger areas” that should have been identified.

In the year 2014, CMS assessed, for example, 102 hospitals which had been recently inspected. What they discovered was stunning: out of 41 serious danger areas, 39 were totally missed by the accrediting inspector teams. This discrepancy  “raises serious concerns regarding the accrediting companies ability to appropriately identify and cite health and safety deficiencies” during inspections,” CMS officials wrote when they released draft regulations this week.

Healthcare facilities are required to meet minimum standards, which are called Medicare Conditions of Participation, in order to qualify for taxpayer funding. Although it almost never happens, hospitals and clinics can lose federal Medicare reimbursement for services and be forced to close. One jarring example was the closing of the King/Drew Trauma Center in Los Angeles in 2005.

Here’s the story:

http://www.latimes.com/news/la-me-kingdrew23sep23-story.html

Here is the CMS website.

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