Health Care and Community Health Network and State Government and St. Vincent and Wishard and Hospitals and Health Care & Life Sciences and Health Care & Insurance and IU Health

IU Health reports most serious medical errors

November 29, 2011

The state’s largest health care system, Indiana University Health, committed the highest number of preventable medical errors last year among major hospitals in Indiana.

IU Health, whose Indianapolis hospitals include Methodist and IU, as well as Riley Hospital for Children, reported 19 serious errors in 2010, three fewer than in the previous year.

The Indiana State Department of Health released its 2010 Medical Error Report on Monday. Among all hospitals statewide, it cited 34 stage-three or stage-four bed sores after hospital admissions—the most common problem in four of the past five years—and 33 foreign objects left inside patients after surgeries.

Other common mistakes were 17 falls resulting in deaths or disabilities and 14 surgeries on the wrong body parts.

In Marion County, IU Health reported 15 incidents among the three hospitals: eight foreign objects left behind after surgeries; six bed sores; and one fall resulting in a death or disability.

IU Health also reported three falls at its medical center in Avon and one surgery performed on the wrong body part at its Lafayette hospital.

Doctors at IU Health’s three Indianapolis hospitals performed about 70,600 medical procedures last year, roughly 10,000 more than runner-up St. Vincent Health, so it had more opportunities to commit errors than other health care providers.

Ideally, IU Health strives for no errors, said Maureen Burger, its vice president of quality and safety. But given the severity of illnesses confronting patients, some of whom are admitted for transplants or severe trauma, she’s satisfied with the results.

Transplant and trauma victims are more prone to bed sores.

“Obviously, we’re going to have more [errors] just because of the volume,” Burger said. “We work really hard at reducing the risk of errors or harm to our patients. That’s my reason for existence here.”

St. Vincent Indianapolis reported five errors: three falls and two foreign objects left behind after surgeries. St. Vincent’s facility in Carmel and its heart hospital each committed one error.

Community Health Network hospitals in Indianapolis had four errors: two retentions of foreign objects; one surgery performed on the wrong patient and one bed sore. Its facility in Anderson reported one foreign object left behind.

St. Francis reported one retention of a foreign object and one fall resulting in death or serious injury.

Indianapolis’ other major hospital, Wishard, reported no errors.

All told, hospitals and health centers in Indiana committed 107 serious medical errors in 2010, 13 more than in the previous year. Last year’s number is the highest since the state began collecting the information five years ago.

The increase may be due to a change in reporting standards to include falls resulting in serious disability rather than only deaths, the report said.
 
The report can be found on the Indiana State Department of Health's website.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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