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Study Finds Surgical Errors Cost Nearly $1.5 Billion a Year

Posted by Chrissie Cole
Tuesday, July 29, 2008 1:22 AM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: Surgical Errors, Medical Errors, Medical Malpractice, FDA and Prescription Drugs

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IMAGE SOURCE: ©iStockphoto/ medical solutions/ author: gmutlu

Preventing surgical errors that happen during and after surgery could save thousands of lives and more than $1.5 billion in annual healthcare costs, according to a new government study.

The agency examined health records of 161,000 patients, aged 18 to 64, in employer-based health plans that underwent surgery in 2001 and 2002.

Researchers found one out of every ten patients that died within 90 days of surgery, died from a preventable medical error. While one-third of all deaths happened after the patient was released from the hospital.

Researchers also found that health insurers paid an extra $28,218 (52 percent) more and an extra $19,480 (48 percent) more for surgery patients who developed post-operative infections or acute respiratory failure, respectively.

Other study findings include:

» Nursing care related errors, such as hip fractures, added an additional cost of $12,196 each patient.

» Metabolic related medical errors, including uncontrolled blood sugar and kidney failure, added an additional cost of $11,797 each patient.

» Pulmonary or vascular problems related with medical errors, such as blood clots, added an additional cost of $7,838 each patient.

» Wound openings associated with medical errors, added an additional cost of $1,426 more each patient.

“Eliminating medical errors and their after effects must remain a top priority for our healthcare system,” said Dr. Carolyn M. Clancy, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) Director, in an agency news release.

The study was published in the journal Health Services Research. #


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