300000 of fines issued for dangerous hospital errors

Hospitals where serious medical errors were committed have been fined $300,000 by state regulatory authorities. Five hospitals were found to have made errors that directly led to patients’ deaths or serious injuries.

One of the deaths cited was caused when a patient was left unattended. The patient subsequently fell and died from a fractured skull. Two other deaths were attributed to medication errors that caused lethal drug overdoses. Other serious medical errors included leaving a retractor inside a surgical patient, and leaving a 28-inch-long guide wire inside another surgical patient.

Although the five hospitals fined were located near each other in a large city (outside of Pennsylvania), state authorities said there was no connection between the incidents, and the fact that they occurred so near each other was purely a coincidence.

The hospitals affected are required by law to self-report to authorities any medical errors that qualify as “adverse events.” The adverse events put patients in danger of suffering injury or death. With every reported adverse event, the hospital must also submit a correction plan that explains how they plan to avoid a repeat of the event.

Hospitals everywhere are justifiably being backed into a corner concerning the top 28 adverse events. These include medication errors, blood transfusions with the wrong blood type, surgical instruments left inside patients, and hospital-acquired infections. Pennsylvania hospital negligence attorneys have noticed that Medicare has stopped reimbursing hospitals for treatment that involved these adverse events, and some private medical malpractice insurers have followed suit.

The message that is being sent to the health care profession is that these identifiable, avoidable adverse events will not be tolerated. Adequate procedures exist to prevent these adverse events and protect patients’ safety, if only hospitals and health care providers would implement them.

Source: signonsandiego “Five local hospitals cited for serious errors” 6/2/2011

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