Preventable medical errors hit new high in Indiana

October 22, 2015

New data released from the Indiana State Department of Health shows that the state has set another record for medical errors.

The state agency said Tuesday there were 114 preventable adverse medical incidents in hospitals and health care facilities in 2014. That's three more than in any of the other eight years since the agency started gathering statistics. Errors have topped 100 in seven of nine years, with the previous high 111 errors in 2013.

The state collects data on 28 preventable incidents. The most common ones last year were 44 instances of pressure ulcers, or bedsores, followed by 27 incidents of foreign objects left in patients after surgeries.

The Department of Health said in its study that there's an increased potential for medical errors with today's "larger and decentralized" patient care system.

"This report is intended to encourage a health care culture that looks beyond blame and supports patient safety through collaboration and responsibility," the agency said.

When the state announced plans to start collecting data on preventable errors, experts warned that the number could increase over time with health care professionals becoming familiar with reporting laws.

Nine errors were reported at Lutheran Health Network facilities, including five at Lutheran Hospital in Fort Wayne.

Lutheran Health spokesman Geoff Thomas told the Journal Gazette of Fort Wayne in an email that its focus on patient safety and staff education "is as strong today as it has ever been."

"We set the bar high in these areas and regret when we fall short of our own expectations," Thomas said. "Personalized, quality care is delivered by humans, and while none of our staff intends to contribute to a medical error, humans can make mistakes."

Indiana University Health reported nine medical errors at its four hospitals in Indianapolis. Eight errors were reported by St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis, seven were reported by Gary's Methodist Hospital, and five were reported by South Bend's Memorial Hospital.


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