The Department of Health and Human Services' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) recommends that large-scale adverse events and medical mistakes should be reported by facilities, even though they do not result in patient harm. This recommendation was noted in a study titled, "The Disclosure Dilemma -- Large Scale Adverse Events," which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The AHRQ encouraged facilities to personally contact all patients that may be affected by a large-scale error such as the use of improperly sterilized medical tools and equipment malfunctions, even if the patients suffered no effect. Facilities are concerned that reporting these events will cause psychological distress on patients that would have had no worries had the event gone undisclosed. They are also concerned that reporting events will place a burden of negative press on facilities.
The AHRQ recommends that facilities have a policy in place that sets a structure for reporting errors and reaching out to all affected patients with follow-up care and compensation.
To read the full study, click here: http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMhle1003134