According to a report just released by the NJ Department of Health and Senior Services, in 2007, hospital doctors, nurses and other medical workers committed nearly 9,400 "serious medical errors” that threatened patient health by leading to infections, blood clots, and other unnecessary complications.
The report is the first in the state to compare hospitals with one another, showing exactly where the errors are occurring. Together, New Jersey’s hospitals fared worse than the national average on numbers of post-surgical infections and frequency of wounds re-opening. In other areas, such as surgical equipment being left inside patients after surgery or the wrong blood type being given, New Jersey fared better than other states.
AARP’S Kelmar said matching the national rate in mistakes is not good enough. She noted there were 63 incidents statewide of a foreign object left in the body after surgery — a rate that is about the national norm.
"The expected rate of occurrence for this incident is zero,” Kelmar said.
"Disconcerting numbers of preventable medical errors are occurring in our health facilities. Now consumers will know these results,” said Patricia Kelmar, associate state director for advocacy for AARP-New Jersey, which pushed for the tougher reporting requirements. "Equally important, every hospital can see their own levels of mistakes compared to others, which we hope will encourage them to make the changes necessary to improve patient safety throughout the state." –The StarLedger
While state hospital “report cards” are a great step on the road to reducing medical errors, there is still not enough focus on preventable medical errors in the national health care legislation. All the talk of medical malpractice reform and tort reform has taken attention away from the real issue, which is that more than 100,000 patients die every year from preventable medical errors. Tort reform will do nothing to prevent this, and will only make it more difficult for patients who are needlessly harmed to get the compensation they deserve.