Nearly 20% of Patients Experience Adverse Events After Hospital Stay, Study Finds
Almost 20% of patients experience "inadequate care" and "outright medical mistakes" in the days following a discharge from a hospital, according to a study published in today's Annals of Internal Medicine, the AP/Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Researchers at the University of Ottawa and Harvard Medical School contacted 400 patients who had been hospitalized at an unnamed urban teaching hospital. They found that after discharge, about one in five patients experienced adverse events -- new or deteriorating symptoms resulting from the care received and not from the original condition. According to the researchers, the adverse events stemmed from the hospital's failure to "communicate effectively" with patients and their primary-care physician after discharge and to follow up with the patient to identify symptoms and complications before they become more serious (Rubinkam, AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 2/4). Of the 76 patients who experienced adverse events, 23 of the problems were said to be preventable, and 24 of the problems would have been less serious with better care, according to the study. Drug side effects accounted for 66% of all the problems reported (AP/Baltimore Sun, 2/4). Dr. David Bates, study co-author, said, "The current reimbursement structure does not reward providers for giving post-discharge care, ... [but] hospitals ought to support having someone get in touch with" discharged patients. Dr. Kenneth Kizer, president of the National Quality Forum, added that discharged patients "are still vulnerable. Their needs still have to be looked after and they need to be tended to" (AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 2/4). The study is available online.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.