Indiana Department of Health Says 2010 Had Highest Number of Reported Medical Errors in Five Years of Collecting Data

The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) has collected medical error reports from hospitals, outpatient clinics, and other medical facilities since 2006. In that time, it has compiled data on medical errors and injuries and tracked trends. Reports from 2006 to 2010, the most recent year for which comprehensive data is available, indicate an increasing number of medical errors in the state. 2010 had more medical errors than any of the other years for which data is available.

Executive Order 05-10, issued by Governor Mitch Daniels on January 11, 2005, directed ISDH to implement a system for reporting medical errors. Among the stated purposes for the system was an increase in public awareness of “the problem of medical errors,” collection and analysis of data to identify areas needing correction, the availability of information and data to help both health care providers and patients understand how to reduce the number of errors, promotion of open discussion about the issue, and reduction of the cost of health care. ISDH created the Medical Error Reporting System (MERS), which requires medical error reporting by hospitals outpatient surgical clinics, birthing centers, and abortion clinics. The system began collecting data on January 1, 2006. MERS now covers 295 health care facilities around the state.

The types of incidents that require MERS reporting are based on a list of twenty-eight “serious reportable events” (SREs) developed by the National Quality Forum (NQF), a nonprofit organization that advocates for national strategies for health care quality and patient safety. The twenty-eight SREs are sometimes known as “never events,” because they ideally should never happen. The NQF’s list includes death or serious bodily injury from the following:

– Five surgical events, including operating on the wrong patient or body part, performing the wrong procedure, leaving a foreign object inside a patient, or the death of an otherwise healthy patient during surgery.
– Three product or device events, such as contamination of a drug or device, device malfunctions, or an intravascular air embolism.
– Three patient protection events, including discharge of an infant to an unauthorized person, patient disappearance, or patient suicide.
– Eight care management events, which include medication errors, blood type mismatches, death of a mother or infant in a low-risk labor or delivery, conditions such as hypoglycemia, pressure ulcers or bedsores, or artificial insemination using the wrong donor material.
– Five environmental events, like electric shock, gas or toxic exposure, burns, falls, or restraint-related injuries.
– Four criminal events, including impersonation of a medical professional, or the abduction, battery, sexual assault, or murder of a patient.

MERS received 107 reports of SREs in 2010, the highest number ever. The next-highest was 105, the number received in both 2007 and 2008. The most common SRE in most years was death or serious injury due to pressure ulcers, with thirty-four reported incidents in 2010. The next most-common, with thirty-three cases that year, was surgery leaving behind a foreign object inside a patient.

The attorneys at Parr Richey Frandsen Patterson Kruse represent the interests of Indiana accident victims and their families, helping them to obtain compensation for their damages. To schedule a free and confidential consultation with one of our lawyers, contact us today online or at (888) 532-7766.

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