Maryland Hospital Fined For Not Reporting Errors

Regulators have fined a hospital in Lanham, Maryland, for not reporting errors. The Washington Post reports that "Doctors Community Hospital in Prince George's County has been fined by Maryland health regulators after failing to notify them that a patient had died and that at least seven others suffered serious harm last year as a result of mistakes by the medical staff. The 185-bed medical surgical hospital in Lanham paid the $30,000 fine last month for violating a Maryland law that requires hospitals to report serious medical errors. State officials agreed to reduce a proposed penalty of $95,000 as long as the hospital uses the remaining $65,000 to develop a patient safety program."

The top state regulator said the reporting errors were due to "understaffing, a lack of attention to what caused patients to be injured or to die, and the absence of a system to prevent recurrences." The Washington Post reports that "the fine is the first in the five years that Maryland has required its 69 hospitals to make public any serious errors that affect patients during treatment. Hospitals are supposed to report such occurrences as surgery on the wrong limb, a patient's taking the wrong medication, a fall, an infection from an IV line and a delay in treatment."

The hospital’s president, Philip B. Down, wrote a letter describing the surge in indigent patients that had caused "deteriorating conditions" at the financially troubled hospital, noting that they expect 60,000 emergency room admissions this year. The Post also writes that "last year 15 hospitals with 100 to 200 beds, including Doctors, reported a total of 44 mistakes that led to death or serious injury, most from falls. More than 20 states have passed laws requiring hospitals to report mistakes or preventable infections" (Rein, 6/15).

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