Medical errors reported by Massachusetts hospitals rose by 32% in the past three years, primarily due to greater awareness and improved incident reporting, according to a report by the state Department of Public Health.
In the latest period measured, from July 1, 2002, through June 30, the hospitals reported 757 errors that resulted in injury to patients, including 65 deaths, compared with 574 mistakes in 2000, the department says.
Of the 757 reported errors from the most recent period, the most frequent incidents were falls by patients (378 reports), other injuries (49), surgical events (38), medication errors (24) and equipment malfunction (20), the department says in a release.
Of the reported surgical events, 34% involved objects left in patients and 25% involved wrong-side surgeries, the department states.
"Understanding why these errors occur is the most important first step in addressing prevention," says department Commissioner Christy Ferguson, in a release.
She says she plans to work with the medical community "to identify strategies to insure patient safety."
Nationally, the Institute of Medicine estimates that up to 3.7% of all hospital admissions result in an adverse outcome.