Medical errors on the rise … slightly

The Oregon Patient Safety Commission announced that reported hospital errors, also known as adverse events or never events, rose slightly in 2011 to 142 events. While this is somewhat of a disappointment, the commission is looking on the bright side, as the reporting of these errors by hospitals is voluntary, and the commission has been encouraging hospitals to report the information. The commission indicated that the number and quality of reports has increased, which they believe is promising news, but it is still far from its goal of 500 reported incidents per year. And that 500? That would still reflect just a fraction of total estimated errors. Still, the more information, the more the commission can try to help improve patient safety.

Catheter infections, which are required by law to be reported to the Oregon Office of Health Policy and Research, numbered 37 last year. Compare that to the 9 reported voluntarily to the commission.
88 of the 142 incidents reported resulted in serious harm to patients, including 22 deaths. Surgical teams are still leaving objects inside patients during surgery–27 errors were reported.

For more on this story, see this article.