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Massachusetts hospitals report more medical errors

August 14, 2014

BOSTON (AP) — The number of medical errors reported by Massachusetts acute-care hospitals has jumped 70 percent since the state both expanded the scope of incidents hospitals are required to report and adopted a computerized system to more easily notify health officials.

Hospitals reported 753 serious medical errors and other patient injuries to the state Public Health Department last year, according to state records.

Errors include procedures on the wrong body part, burns by an operating room fire or a too-hot heating pack, or contaminated drugs or improperly sterilized equipment.

Hospitals also reported more patient falls, serious bedsores, assaults, suicides and suicide attempts.

Dr. Madeleine Biondolillo, associate commissioner at the department, tells The Boston Globe (http://bit.ly/1oQjapL ) it’s unclear whether incident rates are going up simply because the state broadened the type of incidents hospitals are required to report. The department also adopted a computerized system to replace faxes, making it simpler to notify health officials.

Hospital reports for 2014 should give regulators a better idea of whether errors are rising because no more major changes to the notification system are planned, Biondolillo said. “We are always concerned. One of anything is too many,” she said.

Hospital executives are paying more attention to reducing hazards, and some are more openly discussing problems with patients and regulators, but they are simultaneously under growing pressure to care for more and sicker patients and to cut costs, said Dr. Allan Frankel, a former safety head at Partners Healthcare and now chief medical officer of Safe & Reliable Healthcare, a Colorado-based consulting company.

“When you think about what the hospitals are dealing with, reducing adverse events is incredibly complicated,” he said.


Information from: The Boston Globe, http://www.bostonglobe.com

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