How can Australian’s access hospitals safety scores?
Sadly, Australian’s can only access one timid government website, called MyHospitals. The information is frequently out of date and contains only a tiny amount of the data actually collected on hospital safety. Both the public and private health bureaucracies keep vast stores of data about hospital error rates, all of it hidden from public view. The results of Coroners cases are not published despite more than one death a week being reported to Coroners courts in Victoria alone. The names of doctors and nurses currently currently up on review for unsafe practices are not published. Nurse to patient ratios and availability of doctors after hours is not available. Despite paying 140 billion a year in health bills, 17% of that in out of pocket costs, Australians know more about their toothpaste, than they do about their healthcare.
Few people paying private insurance premiums realise that private hospitals in Australia are legally exempt from publishing any data on hospital errors. They can also withhold information on the numbers of patients treated for particular conditions. Public and private hospitals currently have completely different reporting mechanisms, and the public hospitals are far more comprehensive. This is leading to questions about the wisdom of transferring public health funds into private companies who can then run hospitals with far less scrutiny. The Centre for Health and Public Interest has recently released a report entitled ‘Patient Safety in Private Hospitals – the Known and the Unknown Risks’.
In America, the Democratic party is forcing more public scrutiny into it’s overpriced and under effective private health system. And in every instance, the publication of hospital safety scores results in embarrassment for hospital CEO’s, a change in management and the subsequent improvement of patient care. Honesty really does bring safety in healthcare.
The Leapfrog Group have campaigned for over a decade for increased information about hospital errors, so patients can have more choice in where they go for treatments.
The Hospital Safety Score is produced twice a year, and rates 2,500 USA hospitals. They have just produced an excellent app, allowing Americans to view in-depth information on costs and quality of different hospitals. This gives people a chance to make positive choices about where they have treatment, and not just end up add hoc, in bad hospitals, with high infection rates. We need this kind of app in Australia. Which is why Wikihospitals was started.