Frequency of hospital malpractice events
The Department of Health of the State of Minnesota is widely believed to be the most sophisticated agency of all fifty states, in terms of collecting data on malpractice and malpractice costs. Its annual report for 2010 was issued this week for the period October, 2008 through October, 2009, and reflected four deaths as a result of "adverse events." There were 18 deaths reported the previous year.
Four is the fewest number of fatalities reported in Minnesota hospitals since the State began collecting data on 28 types of mistakes or accidents in 2005. These 28 events are classified by medical statisticians as "never events" because there is wide agreement that with proper care they should never occur. There were 301 such "never events" reported to the State in 2009, down from 312 in 2008. Dangerous falls were down by twenty percent in this year's report.
On 44 occasions, a hospital allowed surgery to occur on the wrong patient or wrong body part. On 38 occasions, a "foreign object" was inadvertently left in a patient's body at the conclusion of surgery. Two patients died as a result of hypoglycemia and one committed suicide. Another healthy patient died as a result of complications from surgery. There were 122 negligent bedsore events. 100 patients were disabled by "never" events, including one victim who was burned and four who received inappropriate medications or dosages of medication. During the prior year, ten patients had died as a result of falls.