Medical mishaps hit highest since 2005

by Mami Maruko

Staff Writer

Hospitals reported more than 2,700 “medical near misses and adverse events” in 2013, more than in the past eight years, according to an annual report released recently by the Japan Council for Quality Health Care.

The report tracks such mishaps as broken bones incurred when patients fall while hospitalized, incorrect medicine dosages, and gauze or other items left inside patients during surgery.

The 2,708 cases are more than double the 1,114 reported in 2005, when the council started publishing annual reports.

Shin Ushiro, director of the council, said Thursday that the practice of reporting such incidents “has gradually begun to take root in Japanese society in recent years,” bolstering the council’s aim of preventing medical mishaps.

However, he pointed out that the vast majority of the mishaps in the March report were contributed from the 1,364 national and university hospitals that are required to report them to the council, which is overseen by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry.

Private medical institutions, which are not required to register with the council, reported only 341 near misses or adverse medical events last year.

He said there were 521 cases in 2010 and 316 the following year.

Ushiro stressed that many medical institutions are hesitant about “sharing the information openly among other medical institutions.”

The council, Ushiro said, wants reports from more private medical institutions so the information can be shared and used to prevent repeats of “the same kinds of medical mistakes.”

“We would like to see the culture of taking medical safety measures covering all of Japan completely in the future,” he said.

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