Minnesota Department of Health reports peak patient injuries

Hospitals have reported an increase in number of adverse health events since 2008, showing more serious injury and death of patients while in hospital’s hands.

Based off 2022 data from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), hospitals have reported 572 AHEs; 178 events resulted in serious injury and 21 resulted in deaths, an increase in overall events, but an 11% decrease of serious injuries since 2021.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines adverse health events (AHEs) are “an event in which care resulted in an undesirable clinical outcome not caused by underlying disease that prolonged the patient stay, caused permanent patient harm, required life-saving intervention or contributed to death.”

Although more deaths have been reported in 2022 than any year since 2008, the MN Department of Health (MDH) reports the pattern as “similar to years past.” An overall increase in serious injuries will result in an overall increase in deaths, but that does not necessarily mean a percentage increase in deaths (although 2022 did see just that).

Not all events are counted under Minnesota’s adverse health events reporting law, requiring a high enough threshold of the level of harm.

For example, a fall would only be reported if the fall resulted in a serious injury, as defined by the MDH.

The MDH credits the increase AHEs in part to COVID-19 pandemic, in particular, the increasing length of hospital stays due to COVID-19 treatment. Some other factors include increased age of state population (increasing risk of falls and pressure ulcers), high patient volume in need of inpatient treatment despite lack of beds and workforce shortages across the healthcare board leading to delays in care causing rushed care.

In order to address shortages and patient safety, the MDH has worked to increase staff by offering loan forgiveness and scholarships, expanding training opportunities, infrastructure projects, preventative burnout care among health care workers and grant programs for hospitals, to name a few.

Despite a recent spike, a nearly two decade long trend has show a slight decrease in AHE deaths per year.

Pressure ulcers, on the other hand, have shown a significant uptick since 2004. A recently published report from the MDH shows that ulcers have risen between 30 to 40% every year between 2019 to 2022, peaking at 290 pressure ulcers in 2022.

To read the full 13 page report, CLICK HERE.