The Institute of Medicine (IOM) conducted a study in which it estimated that at least 44,000 to 98,000 preventable medical errors that result in death occur in United States hospitals annually. Even the lower figure of 44,000 deaths causes preventable medical errors to rank in the top ten leading causes of death in the United States. Following the release of this report, a large-scale effort to reduce these errors has been undertaken by hospitals nationwide, Indiana hospitals included. It appears to be working because Indiana hospitals saw a decrease in errors from 2008 to 2009.
In the Indianapolis Star article “Indiana’s preventable medical errors fall,” author Daniel Lee notes the overall drop in reported medical errors in the state from 105 errors annually in both 2007 and 2008 to 94 errors in 2009. In part, the decline can be attributed to the Department of Health’s Indiana Pressure Ulcer Initiative, a program aimed at reducing pressure ulcers (also called bed sores). Bed sores decreased by 33% in 2009 to 22 from 33 in 2008. Indiana University Health (formerly Clarian Health) reported the highest number of errors at 18, however, it is also the busiest hospital system in the state. The most common errors were retention of a foreign object (29 instances) and surgery on the incorrect body part (17 instances).