Massachusetts Hospitals Racked Up Over 300 Medical Mistakes, Including Fall Accidents, Medication Errors, and Surgical Malpractice, In 2008

According to Massachusetts health officials, 338 medical mistakes occurred in hospitals throughout the state last year. Many of these errors could have been avoided. The findings are part of a study that documents “serious reportable events” in 2008.

Breakdown of the 338 serious reportable incidents occurring in Massachusetts hospitals last year:

• Fall accidents: 224 • Retained foreign objects: 32 • Wrong site: 24 • Serious bedsores: 12 • Medication mistakes: 12 • Sexual assault: 11 • Burn accidents: 6 • Incorrect procedure: 5 • Device or product malfunction: 3 • Attempted suicide or suicide: 3 • Air embolism: 2 • Restraint/bedrail incidents: 1 • Maternal death/disability: 1 • Hyperbilirubinemia in newborn: 1 • Wrong patient: 1
19 hospital fatalities were linked to these kinds of incidents. Nationally, about 90,000 fatalities a year can be attributed to hospital mistakes. The hospital that racked up the most incidents was St. Vincent Hospital, located in Worcester.

The five hospitals with the most events for 10,000 patient days:

• Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary • Fairview Hospital • Martha’s Vineyard Hospital
• St Vincent Hospital, Worcester • Nashoba Valley Medical Center, Ayer
Public Health regulators are quick to caution that consumers shouldn’t think of these results as a quality report card and to consider there may appear to be more serious reportable incidents at certain hospitals because some medical care centers may be more (or less) conscientious about documenting such events.

Some of the hospitals that have been noted for their quantity of serious reportable incidents have been making efforts to remedy the situation. The Department of Public Health began requiring Massachusetts hospitals to report any of 28 adverse medical events beginning January 1, 2008. For example, both St. Vincent Hospital and Norwood Hospital have implemented new measure to prevent fall accidents.

Hospital patient mishaps top 300,, April 9, 2009
DPH report reveals hundreds of hospital errors,, April 8, 2008

Related Web Resources:
Massachusetts Department of Public Health

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