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Patient Safety Errors Cost $9 Billion, 100K Lives

Posted by Jane Akre
Friday, April 02, 2010 4:04 PM EST
Category: Protecting Your Family
Tags: Hospital Acquired Infections, MRSA, Checklist, Bacteria, Pneumonia, Catheter, Failure To Rescue, Medical Malpractice, Tort Reform

HealthGrades, a hospital grading organization, says that eight areas saw no improvement in patient safety during a three year period.

No Improvements Shown

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IMAGE SOURCE: Wikimedia Commons Web site/ Cardiology stethoscope

HealthGrades, the hospital grading organization, reports there were nearly one million patient safety lapses among Medicare patients over the years 2006, 2007 and 2008 that resulted in nearly 100,000 in-hospital patient deaths.

The organization reviewed 39.5 million Medicare hospitalization records from nearly 5,000 nonfederal hospitals, to issue its report, the March 2010 HealthGrades Seventh Annual Patient Safety in American Hospitals Study.

Among the findings:

  • There were 958,202 patient safety incidents
  • 99,180 deaths resulted from a patient safety event
  • Excess costs resulting were $8.9 billion
  • One in ten Medicare patients died from safety lapses

The medical errors with the highest incidence rate per 1,000 patients include:

  • Failure to rescue (92.71)
  • Decubitus ulcer (36.05)
  • Post-operative respiratory failure (17.52)
  • Post-operative sepsis (16.53)

Six areas of patient safety saw an improvement in safety over the three-year period including – failure to rescue; complications of anesthesia; infections from poor medical care; post-operative hemorrhage or hematoma; post-operative abdominal wound dehiscence; and accidental puncture or laceration events, which altogether accounted for 20.16 percent of patient safety lapses during the three-year period.

Meanwhile, eight indicators worsened during the time period including – bed sores; collapsed lung; post-operative hip fracture; physiologic and metabolic derangements; postoperative pulmonary embolism or blood clots in the legs; post-operative sepsis and transfusion reaction. These indicators accounted for nearly 79 percent of patient safety events.

On sepsis alone, the incidence rate increased by nearly 26 percent from 14.6 per thousand in 2006, to 18.4 per thousand in 2008, reports HealthGrades.

HealthGrades gave the top performing five percent of hospitals the Patient Safety Excellence Award. The top performers have a 42.6 percent lower risk of a poor outcome, when compared with the poorest performers, according to the study.

39 states have an award recipient and are available on the group’s Web site.

The authors write that the U.S. healthcare system could have saved more than 22,000 lives and nearly $2.1 billion if all hospitals performed like the top five percent.

More than one-third of the 238 Patient Safety Excellence Hospitals are in six states, Ohio, California, Florida, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Indiana. #


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