Seeking medical care in Washington should result in an improved health condition. However, as The Joint Commission points out, it has been a long-acknowledged fact that sometimes, medical mistakes happen, and patients get worse instead of better. These adverse events are preventable, and should never happen. Over two decades ago, the organization developed a policy with the intent of assisting hospitals to overcome safety hazards that led to serious “never” events.
When the mistake causes a health issue severe enough to require immediate intervention to prevent death, or permanent harm or death resulting from the error, the JC notes that the hospital should initiate an investigation right away. Support and collaboration are offered from that organization, but the facility where the incident took place must report the issue to take advantage of these. Reporting, while recommended, is not mandatory.
The Washington State Department of Health notes that the state has its own regulations when it comes to adverse events. The facilities that must follow reporting guidelines include the following:
- Child birthing centers
- Psychiatric hospitals
- Department of Corrections medical facilities
- Ambulatory surgical facilities
There are 29 specific events that fall under the mandatory reporting law and are defined by the potential for serious disability or patient death. They include incidents that happened due to care management, medical device events and harm that occurs because of a mistake during surgery. Patients can file complaints through the state agency if they feel that a physician has taken an action that has resulted in harm. Quarterly reports of confirmed adverse events are published and available to the public, as well.