Christine Stuart photo
Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and Jean Rexford (Christine Stuart photo)

(Updated 9:24 p.m.) Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said Monday that he will seek legislation that requires greater disclosure of medical mistakes at hospitals.

From wrong-sided surgeries to sponges left in patients after surgery, Blumenthal said the hospitals failure to disclose these adverse medical mistakes have lead to serious injury and sometimes even death.

The legislature implemented legislation that did require hospitals to report serious injuries caused by medical mistakes in 2002, but the law was rewritten in 2004 limiting the types of adverse events hospitals were required to report and allowed the reports to remain secret unless the circumstances led to an investigation.

“We have now a culture of secrecy and concealment that is completely unjustified by any of the rationales given. We’re talking about medical mistakes that may cause death and often do,” Blumenthal said.

The rationale had been that the more confidentiality provided the more reporting there would be of these adverse events. “That explanation has been proven false,” Blumenthal said. Other states such as Indiana, Minnesota, and soon Massachusetts, provide detailed reports about adverse events.

In addition to greater disclosure, Blumenthal said he’s calling for civil penalties for hospitals that fail to report. He said at the moment there are virtually none and he would like to see some sort of civil penalty in relation to the injury or the cost of the surgery.

Jean Rexford, executive director of the Connecticut Center for Patient Safety, said the same kind of sunshine the state is putting on hospital infections, “we need to do with all adverse events because it will make the public better informed, better health care consumers.”

When bed sores in Connecticut spiked the state decided to start a pilot program to address the issue. Four years later, Rexford said the pilot is underway.

“Connecticut seems to be the place for pilot projects. If we find something that works we have to embrace it,” Rexford said. “I think we have to get energized about patient safety and this legislation is a start.”

Blumenthal said it’s not a matter of hospitals collecting more data, it’s a matter of them making it public.

“Ensuring patient safety is the paramount concern to every hospital in Connecticut,” the Connecticut Hospital Association said in a statement. “Adverse events are devastating to patients and families, as well as to healthcare providers.”

“Changes to state law implemented since 2004 have made healthcare safer, and demonstrable improvement has been made in reducing pressure ulcers and falls with injury, among the most frequently reported adverse events,” the Connecticut Hospital Association concluded.