RCHE Reports


Reporting Adverse Medical Events in Indiana: News Media and Health Provider Perceptions and Expectations


Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels issued an executive order in January 2005 directing Indiana health and medical professionals to report adverse event data to the Indiana State Department of Health (Indiana State Medical Association, 2007). The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) subsequently commissioned the Regenstrief Center for Healthcare Engineering at Purdue University to gather information that would inform the long term strategy for reporting the data received from Indiana health and medical providers. The purpose of this report is to identify how Indiana news media professionals and Indiana health and medical professionals perceive adverse events and the regulation requiring health and medical professionals to report medical adverse events data to the state. To accomplish this goal, Purdue University researchers conducted an email survey targeting Indiana news media professionals and focus groups with Indiana health and medical professionals. Specifically, the goals of this project were to 1) identify barriers to the medical adverse events regulation and to identify solutions to those barriers, 2) to better understand how the data should be communicated to the public in order to improve patient safety, and 3) to identify the Indiana news media’s perceptions of medical adverse events. Focus group data were collected from health and medical professionals across Indiana. Responses revealed a range of understanding and misunderstanding of the concepts medical errors and adverse events, as well as the reporting system in general. Moreover, themes across groups included anxiety toward the public reporting of medical adverse events, the perception that the system is punitive, and an almost universal agreement regarding the potential for the system to educate health care providers and leaders about errors and near misses. The research was supplemented by an email survey to gauge the understanding of medical adverse events by Indiana’s news media. Results indicate that the news media recognize the complexity of medical adverse events, but believe the data should be made available for the public to prevent future medical adverse events. The data reveal that the ISDH will play a key role in the success of the reporting system. A host of communication strategies need to be implemented by the ISDH to maximize the positive impact of these mandatory reported data, and to ensure that health professionals do not fear reporting medical adverse events.


Indiana, news, media, health and medical professionals, Purdue University, ISDH

Date of this Version

April 2007

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