The Oregonian, June 3, 2011

At least 34 patients died as a result of preventable mistakes in Oregon hospitals last year, the same number reported in 2009 to the Oregon Patient Safety Commission. While the number is small in comparison to the tens of thousands of people safely restored to health in hospitals each year, it is one of several indicators of stalled progress in reducing serious medical errors. In each of the past two years, for instance, Oregon hospitals reported 10 wrong site, wrong patient, or wrong procedure errors. Surgical teams accidentally left objects in patients 21 times in 2009 and 18 times in 2010, despite the commission setting a target of eliminating this type of error. "The truth is, the culture of patient safety is not where it needs to be," said Bethany Higgins, administrator of the Oregon Patient Safety Commission. Created by the Legislature in 2003, the commission represents a collaborative effort between the state and the health care industry to stop medical errors. Fifty-six of Oregon's 58 hospitals are participating in the voluntary program, along with about half the surgery centers and three-quarters of the nursing homes in Oregon.

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