Indiana medical errors hit five-year high

In January 2006 the Indiana State Department of health began collecting medical error reports from hospitals, ambulatory outpatient surgical centers, abortion clinics and birthing centers after Governor Mitchell E. Daniels Jr. issued an executive order the previous year requiring the system in hopes of increasing awareness and transparency.

The goals of the error reporting system were worthy:

  • Collecting and analyzing data to reduce future mistakes
  • Providing patients better information to help them understand their role in reducing errors
  • Promoting sharing of successful solutions among health care providers
  • Developing best practices aimed at cutting back on errors
  • Reducing health care costs
  •  Promoting a culture of open discussion

Yet despite these good intentions, it appears that medical errors in Indiana are still increasing. The latest 2010 report from the Department of Health revealed an increase in error reports from 94 to 107 from 2009 to 2010. This figure was only slightly higher than the 105 errors reported in 2007 and 2008.

Pressure ulcers were among the most reported event in four of the five years assessed in the report, including 2010. There were 34 cases in 2010, even after a two-year Indiana Pressure Ulcer Initiative program was instituted in mid 2008 to address the issue. The second most common error, at 33 reports, was foreign objects left in surgery patients. In 14 cases, surgery was performed on the wrong body part. Death or serious disability associated with a fall was reported 17 times.

Indiana's medical error reporting system is based on the National Quality Forum's 28 serious reportable events. A total of 295 health care facilities, the majority of which were hospitals, were required to provide information.   

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