CA senator demands hospitals reduce rampant medical errors

Hospitals must do more to address medical errors, which cause an average of 325,000 patient deaths annually, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) said in a report released last Friday.

Last year, Boxer asked her staff to investigate and compile a list of the most common and harmful medical errors. "What the staff found out was that there was not a single list--there were many lists," the report states. In response to Boxer's request for a single, consolidated list, the Partnership for Patients last summer released the nine most common errors:

  • Fall/immobility-related injuries

  • Obstetrical adverse events

  • Pressure ulcers (bedsores)

  • Central line-associated bloodstream infections

  • Catheter-associated urinary tract infections

  • Adverse drug events

  • Venous thromboembolism

  • Surgical site infections

  • Ventilator-associated pneumonia

In response, Boxer wrote to 238 California acute care hospitals in February requesting information about their efforts to reduce the most common errors. Thus far 149 hospitals (53 percent) responded, reporting they do take some steps to reduce the errors named in Boxer's document.

For example, to prevent infections, UCLA Medical Center uses ultraviolet technology to disinfect hospitals, bans home-laundered scrubs, and does not allow doctors with casts, bandages or open wounds into surgical areas.

A 2013 study found hospital medical errors are the third-leading cause of death in the U.S, behind only heart disease and cancer, with rates possibly as high as 400,000 deaths per year, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

"This is not the time to sit back and do nothing when we have hundreds of thousands of deaths each year," Boxer said during a news conference at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, according to the Daily Democrat. "We have the opportunity to save hundreds of thousands of lives each year."

To learn more:
- read the report (.pdf)
- here's the article