Medical errors are costing us billions and leading to preventable deaths.
That from the fifth annual Patient Safety in American Hospitals study, by HealthGrades, a leading hospital rating organization.
It finds from 2004 through 2006 there were 238,337 preventable deaths among Medicare patients. That cost the program and ultimately taxpayers $8.8 billion.
The study detected 1.12 million safety problems during nearly 41 million hospital stays logged by the country’s Medicare recipients. The study analyzed 41 million Medicare patient records.
Who had more errors? Poorest performing hospitals as analyzed by HealthGrades, a medical ratings organization. Top performing hospitals were 43 percent less likely to experience medical errors.
The error rate of about 3 percent for Medicare patients translates to more than one million patient incidents occurring during the time period studied. An incident raised your chance of dying to 20 percent.
Medical errors include bed sores, failure to rescue, post-operative respiratory failure which together accounted for 63.4 percent of incidents.
Failure to rescue is little known and always fatal and happens in the majority of hospital cases before Code Blue is called.
Failure to rescue accounted for at least 188,000 lives lost between 2004 and 2006, about 128 deaths for every 1,000 patients.
The worst failure to rescue mistakes involved respiratory failure, pulmonary embolism or deep vein thrombosis, sepsis and abdominal wounds that split open after surgery.
Case in point, 6-year-old Christian Padilla of Fort Wayne, Indiana.
He went through surgery to correct a heart birth defect three years ago. But after the surgery he began developing symptoms. “Acting fidgety” is what the nurse noted. His parents were told it was normal that he was sleeping so much. But Christian’s brain was swelling and days later he died.
Christian’s case is an example of how hospitals don’t respond to subtle symptoms of distress, Dr. Samantha Collier, chief medical officer for HealthGrades tells MSNBC.
Since Christiain’s death several changes have occurred at Riley Children's Hospital, where he had his surgery. An acute response team and a program that urges parents to seek information or voice concerns about their children's care has been enacted. His father often is called upon to speak to nurse’s groups.
Healthgrades says if all hospitals reached the performance level of 249 top-ranked hospitals there could be about 220,106 fewer patient safety incidents and 37,214 patient deaths could be avoided along with a savings of about $2 billion. #