Preventable Medical Errors in St. Louis Hospitals

How many St. Louis hospitals pass the grade for preventing serious medical errors that harm patients?  One nationwide patient safety organization recently answered this question.

The Leapfrog Group is an independent, nonprofit organization focused on preventing medical errors made in hospitals, mainly through educational efforts.  Its most ambitious effort is providing patient safety grades for U.S. hospitals twice a year; releasing one set of grades every spring and another every fall.

Leapfrog just released its Fall 2021 patient safety grades, which include nearly 30 St. Louis hospitals.

The grades include more than 30 patient safety performance benchmarks. These measurements are then placed into two categories, both of which include actions or decisions by healthcare providers that can lead to a serious medical error:

  • Outcome Measures – What, if any, injures a patient suffers from medical care.  One example provided by Leapfrog is a surgical error, such as when a surgical object is left in the patient’s body.
  • Process/Structural Measures – How often a hospital provides the recommended treatment for a medical condition and various elements of the environment in which patient care is provided.

Factoring in the various patient safety and medical error calculations, the organization’s panel of experts arrived at letter grades for each hospital. Of the nearly 3,000 hospitals across the country that were graded, almost a third received an “A,” about a quarter received a “B,” 35% a “C,” 7% a “D,” and 1% failed.

Twenty seven St. Louis-area hospitals, all within 50 miles of downtown St. Louis, were graded.  Eleven received an “A”.  One St. Louis hospital received an “F” for its patient safety efforts.

Surgical Errors Made in St. Louis Hospital

Eight St. Louis hospitals received a “C” – or just average – grade.  A review of the individual scores for one such St. Louis hospital provides more details on the medical errors an “average” medical center can have.

In terms of surgical errors made in the hospital, it was graded below average for:

  • Dangerous object left in surgical patient
  • Surgical wounds splitting open, which can lead to serious surgical site infections

A hospital-acquired infection is a common but potentially fatal medical error.  Besides a surgical site infection, the St. Louis hospital performed below average for:

  • C. diff infection – This comes from bacteria entering a patient’s body. The bacteria can be transmitted to the patient from unclean medical equipment or healthcare providers who don’t wash their hands.
  • Blood infection, which can come from an unclean central line inserted into the patient

Medication Errors Made in St. Louis Hospital

Medication errors are another common yet serious preventable medical error made in hospitals. The St. Louis hospital had issues with the safe administration of medication. Errors during the administration of medication may include:

  • Giving the wrong medication to a patient
  • Giving the correct medication in the wrong dosage
  • Giving the medication to the wrong patient

These three medical errors – surgical errors, hospital-acquired infections, medication errors – are all preventable but, as the Leapfrog hospital patient safety grades suggest, they are potentially very harmful to patients.

If you were seriously injured or you had a family member who died during medical treatment in a hospital, contact a medical malpractice lawyer about investigating whether a preventable medical error was the cause.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements.

Authored by Gray Ritter Graham, posted in Blog November 16, 2021


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