Reported medical errors reach a record high in Indiana

Reported medical errors in Indiana reached a new high last year, but the problem may still be underreported.

The number of reported medical errors at hospitals in Indiana continues to climb upwards, according to the Journal Gazette. Figures released by the Indiana State Department of Health show that medical errors were higher in 2014 than during any year since 2006, when the state first stated collecting data on the problem. The state had made reporting on preventable medical errors mandatory as a step towards improving patient safety. The figures for last year show that pressure ulcers and surgical errors were the two most common medical errors in Indiana.

Rising medical errors

For 2014 Indiana hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers reported a total of 114 preventable medical errors, up from 2013's 111 reported errors. The 114 errors are the most the state has recorded since it began collecting data in 2006. Furthermore, medical errors have exceeded 100 in seven of the nine years for which data is available.

Pressure ulcers, also known as bed sores, were the most common error in last year's figures and were attributed to 44 adverse events. The second-most common error involved objects being mistakenly left in patients after surgery, which was reported as happening 27 times last year. Surgery that was performed on the wrong body part was not far behind, occurring 21 times in Indiana in 2014.

The full picture?

As the Indianapolis Star reports, the recorded figures may not tell the full story about medical errors in Indiana. While the state does have a mandatory reporting system for such errors, previous studies have indicated that the majority of medical errors still go unreported even when reporting is mandatory. Therefore, it is hard to know whether an increase in reported errors means errors are increasing or they are just being reported more often.

The Indianapolis Star further points to the drastic differences in the number of errors reported in Indiana versus Washington, which also makes has mandatory reporting of medical errors. While both states have similar populations and about the same number of reporting health facilities, Washington's reported medical errors far surpass Indiana's. The northwest state, for example, recorded 483 medical errors last year compared to Indiana's 114. Of course, while such a discrepancy could mean that errors are simply more frequent in Washington, it may also be an indication that most errors here remain unreported.

Medical malpractice

As the above article shows, medical errors do happen at Indiana hospitals and some of them can cause serious injuries to patients. For those who have been harmed by a possible hospital error, an experienced medical malpractice attorney can help. An attorney will be able to inform clients what their legal options are and whether they may be able to pursue a claim for financial compensation.