Why Brigham and Women's is blogging about its medical errors

'Benefits of being transparent clearly outweighed concerns'

In the "spirit of full disclosure," Brigham and Women's Hospital has created a public blog, "Safety Matters," outlining medical errors that have occurred at the hospital.

Safety Matters has existed as an internal hospital resource since about 2011, according to Karen Fiumara, Brigham's director of patient safety. Last year, the hospital decided to let the public read the blog as well.

Providers disclose medical errors just 9 percent of the time

Entries cover subjects such as medication errors and missing lab results. Each post breaks down what happened, how the mistake occurred, and how the hospital is ensuring it won't be repeated.

A recent entry details how, based on a patient's report of taking 40mg of a drug daily, the physician administered that dosage while the patient was in the hospital. The patient suffered adverse side effects, including lightheadedness and abdominal pain.

After reviewing the patient's medications with her primary cardiologist, the physician discovered the correct dose was just 2.5mg. "In this case, multiple providers did not confirm the dosage before entering it into the computer," the blog reads.

Medication errors occur every eight minutes in children

Fortunately, the patient didn't suffer any long-term consequences. But to prevent this kind of error in the future, the post explains that "the medication list should always be verified with the patient's primary care physician's office or the community pharmacy where the patient fills prescriptions, as patients may not always know the dosage."

While going public with medical mistakes can be difficult, "the potential educational opportunities and benefits of being transparent clearly outweighed concerns people may have had," Fiumara says (Punke, Becker's Infection Control & Clinical Quality, 2/22; Bird, FierceHealthcare, 2/22).

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