Beginning in January 2008 Illinois law will require state hospitals to report 24 types of careless mistakes called "never events." These unacceptable blunders, including operating on the wrong limb, leaving a surgical sponge behind, using the wrong blood type, or killing a patient with a drug overdose, while unfortunate, are fairly frequent.
The new law, endorsed by the Illinois Hospital Association, stipulates that hospitals must examine the cause of the mistakes and institute a remedy for each one. In turn, the patients and health care workers involved will remain anonymous and the reports will not be used in malpractice lawsuits or for disciplinary action by the State.
Illinois is the fourth state to adopt the “never event law” and has also instituted other laws to maintain hospital standards and protect patients. Hospitals will undergo public inspection and will have to provide infection rates, nurse staffing, and mortality rates
William Barron, vice president of quality and patient safety at Loyola University Health System, spoke in favor of the new measures. "There will be a lot of angst over public reporting. But I have not heard anyone state they will not comply with the act for fear of being publicly humiliated. There’s an evolving cultural change. It’s all about transparency in health care, which by and large is a good thing."