Patient safety’s prying eyes draw Big Brother worries

My lede:

Doctors in Maryland hospitals soon may find themselves the targets of covert surveillance.

That stranger in the corridor reading Newsweek or texting on his iPhone actually may be taking notes on whether physicians and other health care workers wash their hands after leaving patients’ rooms.

In early November, the state launched a safety initiative using $100,000 in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act — popularly known as the federal stimulus package — funds to help hospitals train “secret shoppers” to monitor health workers’ hand hygiene. Forty-five of the state’s 47 acute care hospitals have joined the voluntary initiative.

The Maryland effort is believed to be the first time that government funds are going to train secret observers to keep an eye on doctors. At the same time, Rhode Island health officials have ordered video monitoring of surgeries at one hospital after a rash of wrong-site surgical errors.

The whole shebang.