HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Seattle Hospital Apologizes for Lethal Error on Website

The on-line version of Modern Healthcare (subscription required) reports that Seattle's Virginia Mason Medical Center posted on its web page an apology for a preventable medical error that resulted in patient's death.  The hospital's statement, which may be viewed in its entirety here, begins:

Recently a preventable medical error occurred at Virginia Mason that we believe caused the death of one of our patients. We have offered our heartfelt apologies to the family of the patient and are doing everything we can to help them in this time of grief. But perhaps the only way we can make our apology real is to do everything we can to prevent medical errors in our system. Those efforts start with admitting that we make errors -- as in this case, owning up to errors, learning from them and fixing the systems that allow them to happen.

The MH article cites the Associated Press' report that "a technician mistakenly injected a 69-year-old woman with a toxic skin-cleaning antiseptic, rather than a harmless dye, during an operation two weeks ago. [Medical director of quality Robert] Caplan said both fluids were clear. The hospital has replaced the skin cleanser with an antiseptic-infused swab."

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