Utah Officials Study Medical Errors, Propose New Safety Rules

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Utah Officials Study Medical Errors, Propose New Safety Rules By Christy Karras Associated Press Writer Published: Jun 6, 2001

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - State officials began a push for more reporting of medical information by releasing a report Wednesday that listed 90,000 mistakes made in treating Utah hospital patients over five years. The most common reported problems involved complications during surgery or other procedures, which accounted for 60,251 of the incidents. About 6 percent of patients discharged from Utah hospitals between 1995 and 1999 suffered such complications, the report said. Nearly half of all problems involved adverse reactions from medicines.

The report listed only mistakes that hospitals reported voluntarily. There is no way to know how many mistakes hospitals actually made because they are not required to report them, said Scott Williams, deputy director of the state health department.

"The systems to collect data just aren't there," he said.

State officials say better data collection should heighten awareness and lessen mistakes.

The health department is proposing that hospitals be required to report hospital rapes, treatment-related deaths, surgeries performed on the wrong body parts, babies discharged to the wrong families, and intentional injuries to patients. Hospitals would also be required to report adverse drug reactions.

Officials stressed that medical mistakes are likely no more common in Utah than in other states. There is no way to know for sure because many states do not adequately track or report mistakes, Williams said.

Utah hospitals reported about 13,500 cases of patients who suffered infections or inflammations, and 3,939 cases in which patients were accidentally cut or punctured during care. There were 128 cases of foreign objects left in patients' bodies during treatment; the report didn't say what the objects were.

The report and proposed reporting rules were commissioned by the health department and endorsed by a panel of health care practitioners and administrators. After a public comment period, the rules will likely take effect in October, Williams said.

AP-ES-06-06-01 2251EDT


-- Carl Jenkins (smewherepress@aol.com), June 07, 2001

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