Transparency is K-I-N-G: (Another) Redux

60 Minutes had an interview with Dennis and Kimberly Quaid Sunday evening, see video here.

The Quaid’s, if you will remember, went through a scary ordeal several months ago as their newborn twins were administered Heparin 1000 times that of which was prescribed. The gist of the story is that it was a preventable medical error—and was eerily similar to the 2006 events that transpired to sextuplets in Indiana, killing three.

Cedars Sinai is prominently displayed in the 60 Minutes piece and has received an abundance of negative press over the error. The thing about it, and the public is beginning to find this out, is that preventable medical errors happen quite often. In fact, the Institute of Medicine says 1.5 million people a year are injured as a result of medical errors. The Quaid’s have filed a lawsuit against Baxter, the maker of Heparin; to this point they have decided against filing a lawsuit against Cedars Sinai. The family is also starting a foundation to reduce medical errors.

I see a series of outcomes from this scenario: the call for higher quality in hospitals is only going to intensify. As Americans become more aware of the issues inside hospitals, the pressure for hospitals to rectify those issues will only increase. But here’s the problem: many hospitals will turn and run from transparency (yes, efforts to improve quality are happening everywhere, just not reported all the time), becoming even more secretive about avoidable mistakes to prevent the negative media onslaught that could occur.

That’s completely the wrong thing to do. The right thing to do is to start reporting everything publicly. More transparency is what is required here, not less. As I’ve written before, “increasing transparency not only helps consumers, it will make us better. And that should be the goal of being transparent: making ourselves accountable to ourselves.”

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