Each year, the Indiana State Department of Health publishes results from the Indiana Medical Error Reporting System. This report measures the frequency of acts of negligence that should never happen in a healthcare setting but does not record all incidents that may be considered malpractice. The 2014 report was recently released, and it reveals a fact that no one wants to hear: The number of reported medical errors in 2014 was higher than it was in the reports from both 2013 and 2012. In fact, 2014 saw the most medical errors reported since 2006.
Indiana Medical Malpractice Statistics
Hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, abortion clinics, and birthing centers are all required to report any serious adverse events to the Indiana Medical Error Reporting System. In 2014, there were 287 facilities within the state that had the obligation to report, and there were 114 adverse events reported for the year. The majority of these events — 102 — occurred at hospitals, while the remaining 12 events happened within ambulatory surgery centers. There were no adverse events reported at either birthing centers or abortion clinics.
The Most Common Indiana Medical Errors
The most reported problem in 2014 was pressure ulcers, commonly called bedsores. Stage three or stage four pressure ulcers (developing after patient admission) were reported in 44 of the 114 adverse events. In addition to bedsores, the next most prevalent errors were:
- Retention of a foreign object following surgery
- Surgery on the wrong body part
- Serious disability or death caused by a fall
According to the most recent report, these were the same top four problems that were reported in seven out of nine total years of medical reporting. The adverse events were categorized in the following manner: surgical (45.6 percent of all reported events); care management (43.9 percent); environmental (8.8 percent); product or device (1.7 percent); patient protection (0 percent); and criminal (0 percent).
In addition to the most common medical error types listed above, other adverse events named in the report included:
- Performing the wrong surgical procedure on a patient
- Death or serious disability associated with misuse or malfunction of a device
- Medication errors
It is important to note that the reporting system only requires that the parties report medical errors that result in serious disability or death, and not those that result in harm to the patient that is not fatal or disabling. Keeping this in mind, it is sensible to assume that the actual number of medical errors that occurred in Indiana in 2014 is much higher than 114.
Causes of Malpractice in Indiana
The report does not address causation or contributing factors related to medical errors. However, when an injury is caused by a doctor failing to follow the recognized standard of care in Indiana, that may be a case of medical malpractice. Problems can occur due to:
- Documentation errors
- Communication errors
- Failure to order the proper tests or failure to correctly read the results of tests
- Poor doctor-to-patient or nurse-to-patient ratios
- Poor hospital practices or protocols
Reducing the Rate of Medical Errors in Indiana
The Indiana State Department of Health has developed multiple healthcare quality improvement projects that are designed to reduce the risk of medical error and adverse patient events in the state. Per the report, some of these projects include:
- Implementation of system-based approaches
- Collaboration between providers
- Improved education and training regarding patient safety
- Improved education of patients and their families
- Improved communication between facilities
These projects are a step in the right direction. However, the fact that medical errors increased for 2014 is still concerning.
What to Do If You Are a Victim of Medical Malpractice in Indiana
If you are a victim of medical malpractice in Indiana, it is important that you take action quickly to protect your rights and improve your chances of recovering compensation. Please note that not all medical errors equate to a malpractice case.
The difference between malpractice and an error is this: An error is defined as a mistake or inaccuracy, but it may be one that anyone in the same position could make; malpractice, on the other hand, is when a healthcare provider acts in a manner that is contradictory to the required standard of care, and is not something that a similar healthcare provider in the same circumstance would do. The distinction is very important in a medical malpractice claim, and an experienced attorney can help you decipher whether your case meets the criteria.
If you can prove that malpractice was the cause of your injuries, possible damages that you may be able to recover include compensation for:
- Physical pain
- Emotional suffering
- All medical expenses related to the malpractice and future medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Lost benefits
- All other relevant economic and noneconomic losses
In the event that you are the surviving family member of a person who has died due to malpractice, you may be eligible to file a wrongful death claim for benefits.
Contact an Experienced Indiana Medical Malpractice Attorney Today
Do not wait to take action after malpractice occurs — doing so could jeopardize your claim. Instead, if you suspect malpractice, call the skilled Indiana medical malpractice attorneys at Baker & Gilchrist as soon as possible. Our attorneys have more than 60 years’ worth of combined litigation experience, and we know how to handle a medical malpractice claim both in and out of the courtroom.
To learn more about how we may be able to help when you have suffered a preventable loss, contact us directly by calling our offices or requesting a free consultation using our online form. We can go over the details of your case and outline the legal options you may have for pursuing compensation.