• Study
  • Published March 2012

High-profile investigations into hospital safety problems in England did not prompt patients to switch providers.

While medical errors continue to affect patients on a daily basis, most organizations fear high-profile cases that land on front pages of newspapers or lead to extensive regulatory intervention. This study evaluated the role of England's Care Quality Commission in their own regulatory investigation of major issues occurring in three hospitals. The investigations led to considerable media attention, but whether this influenced patient behavior was unknown. The authors found that the investigations had zero impact on utilization at two of the hospitals. The third experienced a decrease in inpatient admissions and new patient visits, but the effect dissipated 6 months following the public report. In an era of greater transparency and increased attention on patient safety, these findings suggest that patients' decision-making is perhaps less influenced than expected by such events. Two past AHRQ WebM&M perspectives discussed organizational change in the face of highly public errors at Duke and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

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