Preventable Mistakes at Hospitals: Must Reads (June 19, 2015)

Preventable errors continue to put patients in danger at hospitals across the United States.

This week’s must-reads center on Massachusetts, where commentators are buzzing about whether the frequency of medical errors is increasing or declining after a new report on preventable mistakes in the state.

Mass. hospitals continue to make preventable mistakes

According to The Boston Globe, hospitals in Massachusetts reported 821 preventable errors that harmed or endangered patients last year; a 9 percent increase compared to 2013.

As the article reports:

“But the Department of Public Health’s annual study of serious reportable errors was not able to resolve whether medical errors are truly increasing or declining — even if data in the report show an increase in errors.”

Is the increase in reported medical errors the product of more mistakes or better reporting? Click To Tweet

Why one state isn’t worried about a rise in hospital medical errors

The Public Health Council in Massachusetts seems to think it is the latter reason, stating that the numbers are “a positive indicator” that hospitals are better at detecting and reporting errors, according to an article in Fierce Healthcare.

Major Surgical Mistakes Still Happen in the US

Regardless of the reason for the change in figures, an article in Live Science reminds readers that preventable mistakes still happen in hospitals throughout the United States and elsewhere.

As the article reports:

Major errors during surgery are rare, but preventable mistakes still happen in hospitals throughout the United States, a new review finds.

In about 1 in 100,000 surgeries, doctors make a “wrong site” error — for example, they operate on the wrong side of a person’s body, or sometimes even on the wrong person, the study found. And in 1 out of every 10,000 procedures, doctors leave something (such as a medical sponge) in the patient’s body, the researchers found.

Poor communication among medical staff is the root cause of many of these mistakes, the researchers said in their article, published online Wednesday (June 10) in the journal JAMA Surgery.

We can reduce the number of preventable medical errors at American hospitals. #patientsafety Click To Tweet

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