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5 most common medical errors in Minnesota

On Behalf of | Aug 8, 2018 | Injuries |

Hospitals are supposed to be a place where we go for much-needed medical care. Many doctors and nurses do amazing work, but medical errors are still far too common.

In Minnesota alone, there were 341 adverse events reported in 2017.

What are the most common adverse events in Minnesota? We will discuss them in this post.

Pressure ulcers

More commonly referred to as bedsores, pressure ulcers accounted for 120 of the 341 reported adverse events in 2017. Ulcers occur when the bone rubs through the skin because of long exposure with an item. These ulcers occurred most commonly on the tail bone, followed by the head area.

Of the total reports, 84 percent of those patients were capable of being repositioned but were not, while 16 percent had a condition that prevented repositioning.


Patient falls were the leading cause of death for adverse events in Minnesota in 2017. They accounted for five of 12 total adverse events resulting in death.

In terms of injury, 77 patients were seriously injured because of falls. Patients with head injuries were the most likely to suffer a fall, as they accounted for 50 percent of the events.

Wrong site surgery/invasive procedures

Surgery on its own can be scary, but imagine finding out it was done in the wrong area. This was the case for 36 patients in 2017. Most of these errors involved spinal injections before a surgery.

Locating vertebrae for spinal surgery is challenging for doctors because they are unable to confirm the location until an incision is made. Just over 40 percent of procedures were conducted on the wrong side of the spine.

Retained objects

“Retained foreign objects” refer to surgical items that are left behind in a patient after the surgery. Most commonly, these items are soft cloths or sponges used for absorbing fluids during the procedure.

In Minnesota, there were 27 recorded events of retained objects in 2017. Almost half of the items retained by patients were sponges or pads.

Biological specimens

There were 26 events of mishandled biological specimen, another way of saying sample, such as blood or body tissue. Mishandling can cause disease or it can escalate current disease.

Nearly 80 percent of the samples were lost. Almost 55 percent of these losses occurred while obtaining the specimens.

In Minnesota, hospitals must run a Root Cause Analysis to determine the primary reason for the errors. In 32 percent of the events, it was determined that errors were the result of poorly defined or broken rules. The next highest root cause was miscommunication or wrong information at 20 percent.

Though hospitals have sought to improve upon these adverse events, errors are still too common. If you become the victim of a medical error, talk with an attorney to fully understand your legal rights.