Medical Errors on the Rise in Connecticut Hospitals

In spite of efforts to curb medical errors in Connecticut hospitals, the error rate in these institutions is on the rise, according to the latest 5-year study.
Medical mistakes arising from pressure ulcers, wrong-site surgeries, and prescription errors are contributing to an overall rise in the number of medical errors in hospitals throughout the state.
According to the New Haven Independent, “The new Adverse Event Report, prepared by the DPH, marks the first time that acute-care hospitals and other medical facilities have been publicly identified by name, as they report errors that caused harm to patients.
The five hospitals with the highest rate of adverse events in 2010, calculated per 100,000 inpatient days, were: New Milford Hospital (21.4), the Hospital of St. Raphael in New Haven (19.2), Sharon Hospital (17.2), Johnson Memorial in Stafford Springs (17), and William W. Backus in Norwich (16.2). Other hospitals, including the Hospital of Central Connecticut and Saint Vincent’s Medical Center, had above-average rates of errors over the seven-year period from 2004-2010.
Because the errors are self-reported, state officials caution that some of the variation could be due to underreporting. The state does not conduct audits of medical or death records to validate the self reports, and national studies have found underreporting is a widespread problem. One study, published last May in Health Affairs, estimated that the system used in Connecticut and other states—voluntary reporting, based on federal patient-safety indicators—missed 90 percent of all adverse events.
The DPH reviews all hospital errors but does not investigate every case. In fact, the report shows, of 1,023 adverse events included in DPH’s database since 2007, the department launched investigations in only 23 percent of cases. Of 17 cases in which patients died or were seriously injured during surgery—a newer category added in 2010—only six were investigated.”