Preventable hospital deaths increase in Minnesota

Twenty-four people died from preventable hospital errors in Minnesota in the 12 months ended Oct. 6, 2006, double the number reported in the previous year, state health officials say. Half the deaths were related to preventable falls. The state also saw a high incidence of patient pressure ulcers and of foreign objects retained in the body after surgery--two of the 23 so-called "never events" that hospitals should seek to avoid.

Despite the higher numbers, WCCO-TV in Minneapolis says that state reporting system, now three years old, has prompted positive changes at some hospitals. For example, Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park, MN, has had zero reports of pressure ulcers in the past six months, thanks to the addition of skin-care specialists and electronic reminders to nurses to check for bed sores, according to the TV station. "Transparency is a great motivator. And so once you begin to see things, once they're visible, it really creates attention, interest and resources to solve those problems," Dr. Sam Carlson, Methodist Hospital's medical director, said.

For more:
- see WCCO's report
- read the Minnesota Department of Health's report on adverse events. Report (.pdf)

PLUS: Home health agencies in NY state join safety campaign. Release