Corporate Compliance

Hospital safety mistakes rise 3%

Compliance Monitor, April 11, 2007

Patient safety mistakes in hospitals rose to 3% overall from 2003 to 2005, and the error gap between the nation's best- and worst-performing hospitals remained wide, according to a study reported on in Healthday.


The HealthGrades Patient Safety in American Hospitals Study, put out by HealthGrades looked at more than 40 million Medicare hospitalization records at almost 5,000 hospitals from 2003 to 2005, Healthday reported. The study found:

  • There were 1.16 million patient safety incidents among Medicare patients during the three years of the study. That works out to an incidence rate of 2.86%.
  • During those three years, there were 247,662 potentially preventable deaths in U.S. hospitals. Medicare patients involved in one or more safety incidents had a 25 % chance of dying.
  • The excess cost to Medicare associated with patient safety incidents was $8.6 billion from 2003 to 2005.
  • Ten of 16 types of patient-safety incidents increased over the three years of the study, by an average of almost 12 %. The greatest increases were in post-operative sepsis (about 34.3 %); post-operative respiratory failure (18.7%); and selected infections due to medical care (about 12.2%).
  • Incidents with the highest occurrence rates were decubitus ulcers, failure to rescue, and post-operative respiratory failure.
  • If all hospitals had performed at the same level as the top-rated hospitals, about 206,286 patient safety incidents and 34,393 Medicare patient deaths could have been avoided, resulting in $1.74 billion in savings.

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