Within the last year, Massachusetts acute-care hospitals reported over 750 serious medical errors and patient injuries. This number is a 70 percent jump from previous years, causing concern for Hospital executives, as well as the patients and their families who were harmed by these errors.
Health officials attribute this annual jump to the expanded definitions of what constitutes medical harm.
Some of the hospital errors reported include instances where patients underwent a procedure on the wrong body part, were burned by an operating room fire or were exposed to contaminated or improperly sterilized equipment. Patient falls, assaults, serious bed sores and suicides are also amongst the list of reported errors.
Commissioner of the Department of Public Health, Dr. Madeleine Biondolillo, said it’s unclear whether the increase in incident rates is attributable to the state broadening the type of incidents hospitals are now required to report.
Since 2008, Massachusetts hospitals have been required to notify the health department, patients and their families, about serious reportable medical errors.
Prior to 2012, hospitals were required to only report errors which resulted in a patient having a serious disability. Now, hospitals are required to report any “serious injury”, which could be a plausible cause for the increase in mistakes.
Despite this, hospitals still need to improve some of their practices. The broader reporting requirements do not eliminate the occurrence of medical errors. Biondolillo states that hospital reports for the 2014 year should give regulators a better idea of whether errors are rising because no more major changes to the notification system are planned. “We are always concerned. One of anything is too many,” she said. “But next year we’re going to be able to give a much more definitive answer to that question.”
If you or a family member have suffered significant injuries due to a medical error or if a loved one has suffered a wrongful death as the result of the negligence of a medical professional, please contact one of our personal injury attorneys at Swartz & Swartz, P.C.. You can call us at (617) 742-1900, or if you are outside the Boston area, call toll-free at 1-800-545-3732. We are here to answer your questions and discuss how to protect your legal rights.