AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER)-- A new report was released by the Department of Health and Human Services that details the number of times health care facilities in Maine made a mistake in 2012.
The Sentinel Event Report says that there were 146 cases last year in which an unexpected and preventable medical error occurred in a Maine hospital.
Hospitals are required by law to report these events to DHHS.
Some examples of sentinel events are unanticipated death, loss of a bodily function as a result of treatment, or leaving a foreign object in a person's body after surgery.
Many of the numbers are actually down from last year, especially in the categories of unanticipated death and major loss of function of a body part after a procedure, but some numbers have actually increased, such as fall or injuries that happen while under a physicians care, or unexpected transfers to a different facility for treatment.
Some Mainers are shocked that something like a tool being left behind in someone's body still happens our state, but Patient advocacy groups like Maine Health Management Coalition believe the transparency of the Sentinel report is a step in the right direction toward better patient care.
"We're human beings, and sometimes even with a checklist a mistake can be made," said Nancy Morris, Director of Communications for the Maine Health Management Coalition. "If we take that information and look at it to see how we can prevent it again, we're going to get better and better healthcare."
All of these incidents are reported confidentially, which DHHS believes is important to minimize finger pointing and to improve the health care system as a whole.
Doctors we spoke with today said is you ask, some hospitals will let you know the amount of sentinel events they have had, while others may not. They also said before you undergo any procedure ask a lot of questions of your doctor to make sure every aspect of your patient history has been discussed.
To view the 2012 Sentinel Event Report in its entirety, follow this link: