Adverse Events At Maryland Hospitals

Despite the continued national focus on patient safety, medical malpractice (medical errors) and other adverse events occur too frequently in Maryland hospital admissions. Hospitals in Maryland are required to report serious adverse events that occur to the Maryland Office of Health Care Quality (MOHCQ). MOHCQ then issues a yearly report regarding those reported events. In its recently-released report for fiscal year 2012, the report revealed that major adverse events (medical malpractice) still occur at an alarming frequency in Maryland.

Level 1 adverse events, which are the unexpected incidents that cause death or serious disability, were the most serious reported adverse events. Maryland hospitals reported 286 level 1 adverse events, a figure that is down from 348 in 2011. As in previous years, ulcers and falls were the most common incidents, accounting for 75 percent of all the reports in 2012.

The findings of the MOHCQ report include:

• 98 falls
• 86 hospital-acquired Stage III or IV pressure ulcers
• 16 suicides or attempted suicides
• 13 events involving post-surgical retention of foreign body
• 10 medication errors
• 10 events involving treatment delays
• 8 events involving the wrong patient or the wrong body part
• 7 events involving airway management
• 5 events involving restraints seclusion
• 5 fetal deaths or injuries
• 4 physical or sexual assaults within or on hospital grounds
• 4 events involving complication of treatment
• 3 health care associated infections
• 3 intravascular air embolism
• 2 intra-op or post-op deaths in ASA 1 patients
• 2 misdiagnoses
• 2 events involving contaminated drugs, devices or biologics
• 2 burns,
• 1 maternal death or disability associated with labor/delivery
• 1 event involving anticoagulants
• 1 event involving a failure to act
• 1 hypoglycemia event
• 1 event involving a malfunctioning device

Despite an overall decline in incidents, the report highlighted two areas of concern that remain in need of improvement: suicides and incidents involving foreign objects left in patients. Perhaps most alarming was the increase of suicides, which more than tripled from five to 16 in 2012. To combat this problem, the MOHCQ suggested that hospitals update their standards for identifying and treating patients who may be at-risk for suicide by evaluating patients more thoroughly and constantly watching patients instead of having regular check-ins. With regard to incidents involving foreign objects, although the number of reported incidents was down from 17 in 2011, the 13 that were reported remains too high and deserves attention.

Many adverse events can be prevented through changes in care or systems. But, too often hospitals focus on what happened rather than why it happened. Hospitals should improve communication and staff oversight to prevent these incidents which happen far more than they should. If you or a loved one has been the victim of a medical mistake, please contact one of our experienced medical malpractice attorneys who have handled many of these claims.

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