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Why patients don't report medical errors

Wed, 09/26/2012 - 5:01pm
Mass Device

by Marshall Allen, ProPublica

I was recently browsing through the nearly 200 stories we've compiled with our Patient Harm Questionnaire, when I was reminded again of a troubling truth. Many of the people who suffer harm while undergoing medical care do not file formal complaints with regulators. The reasons are numerous: They're often traumatized, disabled, unaware they've been a victim of a medical error or  don't understand the bureaucracy.

That's a problem for those individual patients and for the rest of us. There are many places to complain: a state licensing agency; a professional licensing board that monitors doctors or nurses; the Joint Commission, which accredits hospitals or a Medicare Quality Improvement Organization.

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