As of January 1, 2006, hospitals in Indiana are required to report to the Indiana State Department of Health over two dozen different types of medical errors that result in an adverse event.  Reports must be made within 15 days of the adverse event, describe the event and identify the hospital. Patients, physicians and hospital employees are not to be identified. The state will be making the errors at each hospital available for public review. Indiana will be the second state in the nation to publish adverse events resulting from patient safety errors; the first report is expected in 2007.

You can view a pdf file of the regulation here.

The local paper, The Indianapolis Star, has a story on the new regulation, complete with grisly stories of medical errors over the past 20 years.

Indiana's error-reporting approach, modeled on Minnesota's, lists 27
mistakes that hospitals and surgery centers must report within 15 days
of discovering them. The state will collect and analyze the data to see
whether there are areas where mistakes could be reduced, said Terry
Whitson, the Department of Health's assistant commissioner for
health-care regulatory services.

Here's an excerpt from the regulation describing some what must be reported:

Patient death or serious disability associated with the use or function of a device in patient care in which the device is used or functions other than as intended. Includes, but is not limited to:
  1. catheters;
  2. drains and other specialized tubes;
  3. infusion pumps; and
  4. ventilators.
The hospital's report of a serious adverse event [...] shall be used by the department for purposes of publicly reporting the type and number of such serious adverse events occurring within each hospital. The department's public report will be issued no less frequently than annually.

Everyone in health care wants to deliver quality care. In general, it seems that the transparency fostered by reporting like this will benefit patients and providers. As Carol Fridlin, executive director of quality at St. Vincent Hospital, says, "The real work will be done when we start sharing the preventions and the learning."

[Hat tip: William Hyman]