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Unreported Medical Errors are Pervasive


Statement by Randi Weingarten,
President, American Federation of Teachers,
On Federal Report on Unreported Medical Errors

Today’s report from the Office of the Inspector General, “Hospital Incident Reporting Systems Do Not Capture Most Patient Harm,” says only 14 percent of adverse patient events are reported.

WASHINGTON—As today’s report from the Office of the Inspector Generalnotes, unreported medical errors are a pervasive public health threat that can be eliminated only through systemwide reforms aimed at patient safety, not by focusing on individual incidents and staff. For decades, the American Federation of Teachers has been a vocal advocate for patient safety, even as healthcare facilities reduced the number of frontline staff to the detriment of patients and staff. We need to shift from the current “blame the employee” culture to an emphasis on providing safe staffing levels at hospitals and other medical facilities, and on giving workers a voice and a meaningful role in efforts to improve our entire healthcare system.

We welcome the news that Medicare will take a more proactive role in giving its healthcare providers patient-safety guidance and technical assistance, and we applaud the Obama administration for stressing the importance of patient safety, a long-held priority of the AFT. 

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