Reporting surgical fires could improve patient safety in Ohio, experts say

side note: transparency and risk management have long been suggested as a means of lowering medical accidents. The Cleveland Clinic is correct. Accountability and a sharing of mistakes would go far in preventing future mistakes.

When fire breaks out and burns a patient during surgery in Pennsylvania, the hospital is required by law to report the incident to the state Patient Safety Authority.

If a similar surgical fire ignites in New York or California, the hospital must notify the state health departments there.

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And if the same thing happens in Ohio?

The hospital doesn’t have to tell any state agency.

That lack of reporting, experts say, hurts all of us.

That’s because getting the word out about medical errors keeps patients from being injured, cuts down on medical malpractice lawsuits and, in the end, reduces unnecessary health care costs.

“Medical error reporting, in general, helps change clinical practice for the better and helps improve patient safety,” said Mark Bruley, a researcher who has been publishing articles on the causes and prevention of surgical fires for more than 30 years.

On April 30, officials at the Cleveland Clinic confirmed that six fires had broken out in operating rooms in the 12-month period that ended in March.
Patients suffered “superficial burns” in three of the fires, they said. And no one was harmed in the other three.

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