MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — An annual report on patient safety shows more errors but fewer deaths in Minnesota hospitals in the past year.

The Department of Health found 277 so-called “adverse events” in categories that have long been tracked, such as wrong-site surgery or foreign objects left in a patient.

That was up slightly from 258 a year earlier.

Deaths fell from 15 a year earlier to eight in the categories that had previously been measured.

The report added four new categories, including death or injury during a low-risk pregnancy and simple failure to communicate test results properly. Those new categories pushed adverse events to 308 and deaths to 13. Four of those deaths were of infants during labor and delivery in low-risk pregnancies.

Officials say the new categories were added to conform to a national set of health care standards.

Falls were the most common cause of death among patients. Six people died after falls, while there were 73 falls that left a patient seriously hurt. There have been 67 deaths resulting from falls since the annual report began in 2005.

Hospitals have worked to reduce the number of falls, purchasing safety equipment such as motion sensors that tell staff when weak patients move. But Rachel Jokela, who directs the state reporting program for adverse events, said it might be time for new ideas such as redesigning hospital rooms to make bathroom trips safer.

“We can’t just keep doing the same things we’ve been doing because the numbers are staying the same,” Jokela said.

Hospitals also reported an increase in cases of objects being left inside surgical patients, up to 33 from 27 a year earlier, the Star Tribune reports. Hospitals previously did not count fragments of medical devices.

“We’re doing a much better job with the instruments, the sponges, the bigger things,” said Dr. Ed Ehlinger, the state health commissioner. “So this is part of our continuous quality improvement effort — looking for things we have overlooked in the past.”

The tiny parts typically don’t cause medical complications but can worry patients, said Carolyn Wilson, co-president of University of Minnesota Health and chief operating officer of Fairview Health. But she said “any events are too many.”

Minnesota was the first and is one of just three states that publicly report adverse events at hospitals.

(© Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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