Deaths due to Minnesota hospital errors increase since 2021

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Minnesota's hospitals reported 21 avoidable deaths and 178 serious injuries due to lapses in patient care, revealing lingering struggles due to the pandemic and staffing shortages. 

According to the report, deaths in 2022 are the highest they’ve been in Minnesota’s annual reporting since 2006.  They include six deaths due to falls, four were lack of follow up on test results and two with medication error. 

While deaths from avoidable hospital errors increased, incidents of serious injuries decreased since 2021. The most common of those serious injuries due to hospital mistakes include severe bed sores and falls. 

Minnesota reported a record 572 errors in hospitals, which is up from 508 incidents in 2021. 

"It's clear from this latest Adverse Health Event report that systemic and pandemic-related issues continue to impact patient safety in Minnesota," said Commissioner of Health Dr. Brooke Cunningham. "These types of analyses and the corrective action plans MDH staff advocate for when providing direction to our health care partners are important tools for improving outcomes for Minnesotans seeking care."

The report states higher patient complexity and longer intensive care stays are contributors to the errors made by hospitals.  With longer stays in the ICU, patient volume exceeds the number of beds available for patients. Therefore, patients are being boarded in the emergency department or other places where they can’t receive proper care for an inpatient stay. 

Staffing shortages are also a large cause of these errors. The report states that with limited hands available to help with patient care, there are delays in care which cause patients to stay longer in hospitals. 

"Each and every adverse health event touches the lives of our patients and their families and highlights the ongoing complexities and challenges in our health care system. These hurdles have been exacerbated by the global pandemic and historic workforce shortages," said Dr. Rahul Koranne, president and CEO of the Minnesota Hospital Association. "Despite these extraordinary circumstances, Minnesota’s hospitals and health systems remain steadfast in their commitment to transparent reporting and are always focused on providing the safest, highest-quality care possible."