New Jersey Hospitals Improve Safety Score But Medical Errors Remain

Last year, New Jersey hospitals committed fewer medical mistakes than the national average. While the report on patient safety is positive, the fact that patient safety errors were committed means that hospitals in New Jersey still need to continue to improve policies and procedures.

The report that looked at patient safety in New Jersey hospitals and other hospitals across the nation was conducted by the Department of Health and Senior Services. The report counted the number of times hospitals violated patient safety, the frequency hospitals followed federal guidelines to treat heart attacks and the number of infections caused by hospitals. In the report patient safety issues were measured by the number of safety errors committed per 1,000 discharges and the lower the rate, the better the score.

Although hospitals in New Jersey fared better than the national average in the majority of patient safety measurement areas, New Jersey hospitals were behind the national average in some areas. For every 1,000 patients in New Jersey who had elective surgery, 14.45 patients suffered a serious bloodstream infection after surgery in comparison to 12.57 patients nationwide. Post-operation bloodstream infections referred to as post-operative sepsis can often be prevented if medical staff wash their hands. New Jersey hospitals also committed more patient safety errors during child labor and delivery than the national average.

Certain hospitals in New Jersey tended to make more medical mistakes than others. There were 27 instances of foreign objects left inside patients after surgery among hospitals in New Jersey last year. One New Jersey hospital committed seven of the errors. Bloodstream infections caused by non-sterile equipment were also more frequent in certain hospitals. Six New Jersey hospitals had twice the infection rate than other hospitals in the state.

Though the rate of patient safety errors is relatively low in New Jersey, the low percentage does not matter if you are the patient who has suffered a medical mistake. That is why hospitals need to continue to make improvements and affected patients need to assert their legal rights to ensure they receive appropriate compensation.

Source: nj.com, “Report: New Jersey Hospitals Scored Better Than National Average in Most 2010 Safety Measures,” Megan DeMarco, March 20, 2012