Hospital errors up 3 percent

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Hospital errors are on the rise, with safety incidents involving patients going up 3 percent from 2003 to 2005. But all’s not equal, as the top-performing U.S. hospitals had a 40 percent lower rate of medical errors compared to the worst performing, according to an annual report by HealthGrades, a healthcare ratings company.
The report evaluated the performance of 40.56 million Medicare hospitalization records to come to its conclusions from 2003 to 2005. Key findings of the report include:

  • There were 1.16 million preventable patient-safety incidents over the three years studied among Medicare patients in U.S. hospitals, an incidence rate of 2.86 percent;
  • 247,662 of these deaths were potentially preventable over the three years;
  • Because of these errors hospitals saw a total excess costs to hospitals of $8.6 billion over three years; and
  • Ten of the most common 16 patient-safety incidents got worse from 2003 to 2005, by an average of almost 12 percent, while seven incidents improved, on average, by six percent. Topping the incident rate list were post-operative sepsis (34.28 percent), post-operative respiratory failure (18.70 percent) and selected infections due to medical care (12.23 percent);

"The cost of medical errors at American hospitals in both mortality and dollar terms continues to be significant, and the ’chasm in quality’ between the nation’s top and bottom hospitals, which HealthGrades has documented in this and other studies, remains." said Dr. Samantha Collier, HealthGrades’ chief medical officer and the primary author of the study. "But the nation’s best-performing hospitals are providing benchmarks for the hospital industry, exercising a vigilance that resulted in far fewer in hospital incidents among the Medicare patients studied."
For more information regarding the 4th annual HealthGrades Patient Safety in American Hospitals visit: