Minnesota Hospitals Reveal Slight Increase in Hospital Errors

Minnesota hospitals and surgical centers have reported that nearly 340 medical errors risked patient safety last year but medical mistakes resulting in patient deaths declined.

The state Department of Health’s annual adverse health events report found four deaths caused by a preventable error, Minnesota Public Radio reported. One was due to a medication mistake and the other three were from falls.

The events were tracked from Oct. 7, 2015, through Oct. 6, 2016. There were more medical errors than in the previous 12 months, when there were 320. But there were 12 fewer deaths.

Adverse health events program director Rachel Jokela said the drop in deaths is a step in the right direction.

“We are sorry when any of those events happen; that’s four patient families that lost a loved one,” she said. “It’s kind of hard to celebrate that number until it’s zero.”

The report also found that suicides didn’t contribute to the annual tally for the first time since 2011.

Minnesota law requires hospitals and ambulatory care centers to track nearly 30 preventable errors, including wrong-site surgeries, foreign objects left in patients, medication mistakes and falls.

Falls and pressure ulcers, also known as bed sores, were the most commonly reported, accounting for 60 percent of events.

Death resulted from 1 percent of events, while serious patient injuries resulted from 31 percent, or 106 events.

There were 2.78 million procedures and surgeries in Minnesota last year, according to Jokela. She said the events can be lowered with the employment of best practices and vigilances.

Allina Health’s two nurses strikes last year occurred during the report’s tracking period. Jokela said the strikes didn’t cause an uptick in events at the five facilities impacted.

“A couple of them reported less,” she said.