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Illinois medical error reporting law to finally be implemented?

The Chicago Tribune reported recently that the Illinois medical error reporting law will finally be implemented. Ten years ago, a landmark report addressed that medical mistakes cause up to 98,000 wrongful deaths in American yearly. In 2005, Illinois legislators decided to tackle the issue a passed an Act requiring hospital to report the deadliest kind.

The measure is yet to be implemented, and unfortunately, it will likely take another year at least. Among the reasons given for the long delay in implementation are state budget woes and foot-dragging by special interests. The Chicago Tribune reported that there are finally small reasons to believe that there is progress – a website that tracks hospital infection rates and staff levels recently was launched and a search for a vendor to help implement the law has begun.

The Illinois law requires hospitals to publicly report mistakes called “never” mistakes. These are preventable errors with potentially life-threatening consequences, such as wrong knee surgery or the forgotten sponge inside a surgery. Then the law is actually enacted, hospitals will be required to report major medical errors within 30 days of the medical malpractice incident to the state’s public health department. A list of hospitals and mistakes will be posted online annually.

A spokesperson from a Consumer Advocacy group estimates that the test phase for the website will not begin until mid-2010 or 2011. Once that happens, hopefully Illinois citizens will be able to take advantage of the information to choose hospitals less likely to have medical errors occur.

To read the full Chicago Tribune article on the medical error reporting law.