IU Health reports most serious medical errors

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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.


  • help
    Foreign objects left inside the patient after surgery is just plain negligent. personal injury lawyer in Miami can help with any case like this.
  • Disappointing
    It is disappointing that the leadership at our largest hospital system in Indiana believes that these "major errors" are satisfactory. Would Ms. Burger be satisfied if these errors were committed on members of her family?
  • Percentage
    I don't care how the figure is calculated, no patient wants to be considered a percentage of bed sores or instruments left behind.
  • Wishard
    The most interesting fact reported is that one of the nation's largest safety net hospitals and Indianapolis' only public hospital has zero errors. Maybe when care is the mission rather than profit Wishard is more likely to remove their instruments before closing up a patient.
  • MATH?
    Here is the math (somebody check me please):
    IU =(19+34+33+17+14)=117 errors
    StV = (2+3)=5 errors
    If both hospitals did 100,000 procedures:
    IU = (117*100,000)/70,600 = 166 errors
    StV = (5*100,000)/60,600 = 8 errors.

    Where you take your healthcare is your business, but everyone should be asking Wishard what they are doing.
  • Satisfied. Really?
    Maureen Burger is in need of a procedure herself - it's called "foot in mouth disorder". If I were the person in charge of their PR and communications, I would declare her condition to be inoperable and find someone else to be in charge of their quality and safety, neither of which she seems to know anything about.
  • Do the math
    If IU health did 70,600 procedures and had 19 serious errors and St. Vincent did 60,000 procedures and had 5 serious errors, then IU still has the worst rate, by far. Math is not so hard people.
  • Headline misleading
    If you consider the errors as a percentage of patients treated and/or procedures performed - IU Health would NOT have the highest errors. I do not work for them and am not affiliated in any way - I just think this is not the most accurate way to report these very serious results.
  • Numbers seem unfair
    shouldn't these numbers be stated in terms of percentage of patients or number of hours they spent in the hospital? It makes sense that the largest system would have the most errors if it has the most patients and procedures. Doesn't seem like an apples to apples comparison.
  • Satisfied with errors
    I find it appaling that Ms. Burger would say that she is "satisfied" with the results of their medical error rates. If I were one of the patients that one of these errors occured on, I would be madder than all get out that she made that remark. One should always strive for perfection, not be willing to be satisfied with 15 errors. Especially with number of foreign bodies being retained after surgery. Shame on you!!

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