Study Shows Adverse Events in Hospitals Still a Problem

USA Today reported that approximately 15,000 Medicare patients die each month due in part to care they receive in hospitals. This figure was the result of a study performed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

According to the report:

[HHS] selected a nationally representative random sample of 780 Medicare beneficiaries from all beneficiaries discharged during October 2008. Physician reviewers determined (1) whether an adverse event occurred, (2) whether the event was on the NQF list of Serious Reportable Events or the Medicare list of hospital-acquired conditions (HAC), (3) what the level of harm was to the patient, and (4) whether the event was preventable.

The four major findings of the study were:

  • An estimated 13.5 percent of hospitalized Medicare beneficiaries experienced adverse events during their hospital stays.
  • Hospital care associated with adverse events and temporary harm events cost Medicare an estimated $324 million in October 2008.
  • Physician reviewers determined that 44 percent of adverse events and temporary harm events were clearly or likely preventable.
  • An additional 13.5 percent of Medicare beneficiaries experienced events during their hospital stays that resulted in temporary harm.

HHS made several recommendations in an effort to reduce or prevent adverse events from occurring, including: broadening patient safety efforts to include ALL types of adverse events, enhancing efforts to identify adverse events, and providing further incentives for hospitals to reduce the incidence of adverse events.

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