Hospitals

Patient safety: Does your state publicly report hospital errors?

Reducing hospital errors is top of mind for a slew of healthcare personnel, but  there is only one state in the country that releases an annual report of hospital errors. Yes, just one — Minnesota. Last week, the eighth annual Medical Adverse Events Report was released by the Minnesota Department of Health and it showed […]

Reducing hospital errors is top of mind for a slew of healthcare personnel, but  there is only one state in the country that releases an annual report of hospital errors.

Yes, just one — Minnesota.

Last week, the eighth annual Medical Adverse Events Report was released by the Minnesota Department of Health and it showed that hospital errors climbed slightly in 2011 to 316 from 305 in 2010. However, even as the number of adverse events rose, the number of serious injuries or deaths resulting from them fell to 89 last year from 107 in 2010. That brings the harm caused to the lowest level since 2007. The data covers the 12 months from Oct. 7, 2010 to Oct. 6, 2011.

The report summarizes data from roughly 200 facilities covered by the adverse health events reporting law passed in 2003. The 316 events were reported by 61 hospitals and seven surgical centers.

Here are further details from the report:

Nearly all of the increase can be attributed to increases in two categories: pressure ulcers and wrong procedures. The number of pressure ulcers rose to 141, an increase of 19 percent, while reports of wrong procedures increased by 63 percent, to 26. If the number of events in those two categories had been at the same level as the previous year, total reported events would have been lower than in 2010. The higher number of reports in these two categories masks an overall reduction in harm and significant improvements in three areas where Minnesota has implemented strong, statewide efforts: falls, retained objects in labor and delivery, and wrong site surgeries/invasive procedures. Successes in 2011 include:

  • The number of serious falls was 71, a decrease of 11 percent from 2010 and a decrease of more than 25 percent from a high of 95 serious falls three years ago. Only the most serious falls are required to be reported through this system; therefore, every prevented fall means serious harm or death to a patient has been avoided.
  • After increasing for the last few years, wrong site surgeries/invasive procedures declined by 23 percent in 2011 (from 31 to 24).
  • After two years of sustained work by staff in labor and delivery units to implement processes for counting sponges and other items, no retained foreign objects were reported in labor and delivery in 2011.

The Minnesota Department of Health’s website allows citizens to peruse errors data from multiple providers dating back to 2005, which pulls up the record for the year before. Here’s a summary of adverse events from Abbott Northwestern Hospital, part of Allina Hospitals & Clinics, for 2011.

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