But these aren't reported on CMS's Hospital Compare, and there isn't even a good measure to define how they should be counted.
But how? Where do you begin? Do you report medication errors that don't make it into the patient? What about mistakes that get to the patient but which don't cause harm? Or mistakes that cause harm, but not serious harm and which are quickly reversed? Intravenous drugs or oral ones, or topical ones?
What's a good measure of medication error rate inside of a hospital?
"That's the challenge of creating a measure," Binder says. "How do you define it, what mistakes do you include, or exclude? Measure development is a science for a reason and [there are] lots of issues.
"It's tough. But it's not impossible.
"But I just want something. Anything is better than nothing. I just want to know how many times a hospital harmed a patient with a medication error."
CMS is committed to transparency, Binder believes. "But I want them to demonstrate that," she says. "I'm concerned, and worried, that we could have some reversal of the gains that purchasers and consumers have made in improving transparency over the past decade."
That, I think, is the real elephant in the room.