Connecticut hospitals saw spike in patient deaths linked to falls, burns in 2017

In 2017, Connecticut hospitals reported increases in patients with serious injuries or deaths linked to falls and burns compared to 2016, according to a Connecticut Department of Public Health report cited by the Hartford Courant.

Five report insights:

1. Although the number of adverse events hospitals reported decreased from 431 in 2016 to 351 in 2017, a 19 percent decline, most of the drop was due to the elimination of two categories in 2017, the health department said.

The categories were serious injuries or death resulting from perforations during open, laparoscopic or endoscopic procedures and those resulting from surgeries. Those two categories accounted for 72 adverse events in 2016.

2. From 2016 to 2017, patient falls rose from 74 to 84; patient death or injury linked to a burn increased from four to eight; and serious injury or death associated with intravascular air embolism rose from zero to two.

3. Several categories showed improvements in 2017: surgeries performed on the wrong site decreased from 18 to 10; the retention of a foreign object in a patient after surgery dropped from 20 to 17; and medication errors declined from seven to four.

4. Mary Cooper, MD, chief quality officer and senior vice president for clinical affairs at the Connecticut Hospital Association, said safety efforts in the last few years have focused on educating and training hospital workers in self-care to help them provide better care.

"We're happy overall that we're showing some progress in various areas," she said.

5. But Lisa Freeman, executive director of the Connecticut Center for Patient Safety, said the findings show little improvement. Considering the two categories no longer included in the reporting, there were only eight fewer adverse events in 2017 than in 2016, she said.

"That's not a change. It's just reflective of no improvement in my mind," Ms. Freeman said. "There are still far too many medical harm events. And these aren't minor ones, these are ones resulting in death or substantial injuries."


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