Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) has released an updated report examining hospital errors, and what California hospitals are doing to prevent them. The news is grim.

Every year, between 210,000 and 440,000 American patients die as a result of preventable errors in hospitals, making medical errors the third leading cause of death in this country, after heart disease and cancer, according to the report’s findings.

The original 2013 report listed the nine most common medical errors, which included: adverse drug events, catheter-associated UTIs, central line-associated blood stream infections, injuries from falls and immobility, obstetrical adverse events, pressure ulcers, surgical site infections, venous thromboembolism, and ventilator-associated pneumonia.

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In early 2014, Senator Boxer asked 283 California hospitals to respond with the actions they had been taking to reduce these common errors. To date, 87% of the hospitals have responded to the inquiry.

The findings indicated that all of the responding hospitals reported taking steps to address medical error problems, and that many of the hospitals agree on common approaches to reduce errors. The report also found that some hospitals have already been pursuing unique approaches to limit errors.

Kaiser Permanente is requiring nurses to wear colored sashes or vests when dispensing medication to patients in order to prevent distractions that could lead to errors. The colored sashes are meant to notify other hospital staff that the nurse is dispensing medication and should not be interrupted.

UCLA Medical Center is disinfecting its hospital rooms using ultraviolet technology, and bans the use of home-laundered scrubs as well as preventing hospital staff with open wounds, bandages or casts from scrubbing into surgery in order to reduce infection rates. 

Desert Valley Hospital has reduced surgical site infections by rewarding medical staff with good hand hygiene by entering them into drawing for prizes.