Rhode Island Hospital has agreed to spend at least $1 million to improve its systems after a series of recent patient errors.
The consent agreement with the state Department of Health, announced Friday, comes after three patients were given diagnostic tests intended for other patients, and a fourth had surgery on the wrong vertebra. The incidents occurred in February and March.
Hospitals are required by state law to report such incidents.
The health department agreed not to take regulatory action against the hospital, provided the hospital takes specific steps to improve its system for verifying the identity of patients and diagnostic orders. The hospital also must conduct a mandatory, system-wide in-person training, and hire an independent expert in compliance to monitor the progress.
“Whenever preventable errors occur in hospital settings, it is essential that we scrutinize those errors carefully and that facilities make the systems changes needed to ensure that they do not occur again,” Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, the state health director, said in a statement. “Rhode Island is home to some of the preeminent healthcare facilities in the region and the country. Inspections and regulatory work by the Department of Health are critical to ensuring that our hospitals maintain that status, and to ensuring that the healthcare system as a whole continues to provide quality patient care.”
In 2010, the state fined Rhode Island Hospital $300,000 after a broken drill bit was left in patient who underwent neurosurgery.
Rhode Islnd Hospital is part of Lifespan, the state's largest hospital system.