MDH: Pandemic challenges reflected in number of adverse health events in 2021

(ABC 6 News) – A new report from the Minnesota Department of Health shows the number of reportable adverse events and instances of patient harm rose in 2021 during the past year-long reporting period in Minnesota hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, and community behavioral health hospitals.

An adverse health event is usually a result of medical error, substandard care, a known side effect, or an unexpected complication.

RELATED: MDH Report: Pandemic challenges reflected in number of adverse health events in 2021

In 2021, Minnesota Department of Health says an uptick of 126 incidents happened at hospitals across the state, including here at Mayo Clinic. Those numbers during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Before 2021, the overall number of events had been stable, but 2021 saw an increase in events, primarily due to new challenges and increased care associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Across Minnesota, in 2020 there were 382 reports of accidents or incidents that resulted in a patient being harmed. But according to the state, that number leaped to 508 in 2021.

The report said Mayo Clinic was responsible for 73 of those incidents last year, compared to 58 in 2020 and 53 in 2019.

The state department of health reporting pressure ulcers, otherwise known as bed sores and falls accounted for over half of the incidents across the state. But Mayo Clinic’s results were a little different.

"Pressure injuries for us decreased for the reporting year of 2020 and 2021. We had 21 compared to 27 the previous year. However, falls did increase for us," Mayo Clinic Patient Safety Officer, Dr. Kannan Ramar said.

ABC 6 News spoke with some nurses in Rochester who declined to go on camera. But said short staffing due to the pandemic weighed heavily on them and caused a lot of fatigue which can lead to mistakes.

Mayo Clinic’s Dr. Ramar said the health care provider is making it a priority to address these statistics by investing more in technology to help prevent these kinds of issues in the future.

"Particularly when you have issues with worker shortages. If there’s a way we could leverage technology to automate that process that’s going to give time back to the nurse to be able to take care of the patient", Ramar said.

Mayo Clinic has also started using artificial intelligence and advanced analytics to help educate staff to prevent patient injury.

"That’s in the process of being implemented here, which will hopefully mitigate some of these problems we’ve been having with pressure injuries. We are starting to look at predictive modeling for falls as well," Ramar said.