A new patient-safety study in Utah has revealed that hospitals and surgical centers in the state reported 34 serious errors over the last year, including 18 deaths. What's more, about 3.2% of the nearly 240,000 inpatients at 41 acute-care hospitals in Utah experienced adverse drug reactions.
The report, released by the Utah Department of Health, is the first yearlong study mandated by patient-safety rules that took effect Oct. 1, 2001, making the state one of 20 that require the collection of data on medical errors.
Scott Williams, M.D., deputy director of the state health department, said he expects that number of adverse events to increase in the first few years of reporting by the state's healthcare facilities. "This doesn't mean that the incidence of errors will actually be going up -- it means that they are now being reported and we have a system for improvement," he said.
"By reporting these events we can begin to identify ways to eliminate errors and further improve delivery of care," he added.
In addition to the 18 deaths, the serious errors -- or sentinel events -- included 10 patients who lost mental or physical function, five wrong-site or wrong-patient surgeries and one suicide unrelated to clinical care. The data, collected from 76 inpatient hospitals and outpatient surgical centers during a 12-month period ending in October, did not identify the facilities where the errors occurred. -- by Michael Romano