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Report shows spike in medical errors in nearby state

Maryland residents may be familiar with a recent report issued by the Department of Public Health in nearby Connecticut. The Adverse Event Report is the second annual report that identifies acute care hospitals and other medical facilities publicly with respect to doctor errors and hospital negligence that resulted in harm to patients. Maryland residents might find the results of the recent report rather interesting.

Among the many troubling findings in the report included a greater than a 60 percent increase in wrong-site surgeries over the prior year. Even more bothersome in the report is an apparent increase in the number of patient deaths and disabilities resulting from surgical errors. In terms of volume, the hospital that saw the greatest overall increase in the number of doctor errors and hospital negligence was Yale-New Haven and its affiliated Hospital of St. Raphael.

While patient fatalities and serious disabilities from unexpected complications grew, there was a statewide decrease in the number of patients suffering from such conditions as pressure sores. In fact, the number of patients suffering from pressure sores, also known as pressure ulcers, declined by about 50 percent compared to the 2009 numbers. Unfortunately, perforations during laparoscopic and endoscopic surgical procedures resulting in death or disability remained high.

Because most doctor errors are self-reported, it can be difficult for researchers to collect good data. The report, however, does provide some keen insights into the many problems United States medical facilities face. While there has certainly been some progress, it is quite clear that there is also substantial room for improvement. No one should ever have to fear returning from the doctor's office worse than when he or she went in. This is simply unacceptable by any standard.

Source: Hartford Courant, "Surgical Errors Climb, Bed Sores Decline in State's Hospitals," Lisa Chedekel, Dec. 31, 2012

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