Bloomington, Terre Haute Rank Near Top For Medical Errors

The hospital in Bloomington reported three errors in the past year and Terre Haute's hospital reported four.

The Indiana State Department of Health has released its yearly medical errors report and while hospitals in Bloomington and Terre Haute rank near the top of the list in terms of errors reported, officials say the numbers bear greater scrutiny.

Each facility is mandated to report errors in 28 categories, covering many ways a patient may be harmed or even killed while under a doctor’s care.  Some errors, says State Health Commissioner Dr. Greg Larkin, are more serious than others.

“Leaving foreign objects in a patient after surgery, having a preventable fall that results in a death or serious disability that was preventable obviously is serious,” he says, “or even having surgery performed on the wrong part of the body.”

IU Health-Bloomington Hospital reports three errors for the past year, including one instance of a foreign object left in a patient.

Ensuring Quality Medical Professionals

LeAnne Horn, the hospital’s Director of Quality Improvement and its patient safety officer, says doctors are encouraged to reports errors themselves, but they are not often reprimanded for a single mistake.

“Where it’s a problem is if there’s a trend,” Horn says. “Providers go under a reappointment where their quality is looked at and scrutinized every two years – actually every eight months here – to look at, to make sure that there aren’t any trends.  And then if there’s a trend, then that’s where we can dive in a little deeper.”

Still, Horn says some contracts with doctors have not been renewed if such a trend showed up in their evaluation. Only 46 of 149 hospitals reporting statistics to the study in 2010 showed any errors at all – meaning less than a third of the state’s hospitals commit 100 percent of the state’s medical errors, if the report is to be believed.

Accuracy of Data Reported

Greg Larkin admits the study is only as good as the honesty of its data. Bloomington Hospital’s Horn says it is possible some errors have not been discovered yet.

“If it’s a large hospital who has a large volume and goes several years without a reportable [error], I would be concerned about their culture as far as transparency,” she says. “But a hospital can have zero.”

Bloomington hospital ties for sixth on the errors report, with three in the past year. Terre Haute’s Union Hospital had the 5th-most errors with four, including two cases where surgery was performed on the wrong body part. Clarian Health’s three Indianapolis facilities – IU, Methodist and Riley – lead the list in both number of errors and number of patients treated.

Stan Jastrzebski

WFIU/WTIU News Senior Editor Stan Jastrzebski spent time as a reporter with WGN Radio in Chicago and as an editor at Network Indiana, an Indianapolis news service. Stan is the winner of awards from the Associated Press, the RTDNA, the Indiana Broadcasters Association and the Society of Professional Journalists. He hosts WFIU's Ask the Mayor and anchors WTIU's InFocus.

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