Watchdog Group Urges Brown To Audit Hospitals for Medical Errors

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Following an investigative report on medical errors at California hospitals, Consumer Watchdog sent a letter urging Gov. Jerry Brown (D) to audit the state's hospitals for such adverse events, FierceHealthcare reports (Budryk, FierceHealthcare, 11/24).


An NBC Bay Area investigative report that found California hospitals in the last four fiscal years reported more than 6,000 adverse events to the California Department of Public Health.

Specifically, researchers found 6,282 reported adverse events among the 410 California hospitals in the DPH database.

The most highly reported adverse events were:

  • Bedsores, with 3,959 reported cases; and
  • "Retention of a foreign object in a patient," with 986 reported cases.

However, the report noted that the actual number of adverse events could be higher (California Healthline, 11/20).

The report stated, "Given that an estimated 44,000 Californians die every year because of preventable medical error, this tiny number of reported adverse events is literally unbelievable," adding, "Some hospitals only reported a single adverse event in a year. DPH should recognize that it's a statistical impossibility for any hospital to have such a pristine patient safety record."

Details of Letter

Consumer Watchdog's letter was addressed to Brown, as well as:

  • California HHS Secretary Diane Dooley; and
  • DPH Director Ron Chapman.

In the letter, the group called for the state to audit all hospitals for adequate medical error reporting and to levy maximum fines on those that do not report such events. Further, the group urged the state to disclose online comprehensive information regarding adverse events, including:

  • The name of the hospital involved; and
  • The hospital's corrective action (FierceHealthcare, 11/24).

The letter states, "It is impossible for Californians to gauge the safety of the hospital they choose with the negligible information DPH provides" (Consumer Watchdog release, 11/21).

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