Report: Hospital Adverse Events Affect Numerous Medicare Beneficiaries
The study draws on a nationally representative sample of 780 Medicare patients discharged from hospitals in October 2008.
Extrapolating the data, researchers estimated that 134,000 patients of the 1 million Medicare patients discharged that month experienced at least one adverse effect, such as bed sores, infections and excessive bleeding due to blood thinners.
Another one in seven patients experienced temporary harm because of problems that were identified and addressed in time (Rubin, USA Today, 11/16).
Researchers found that not all adverse events identified in the study were caused by medical error and that 44% of the events were "clearly or likely preventable," the New York Times reports. The "most serious events," such as performing surgery on the incorrect patient, accounted for less than 1% of adverse events.
Researchers determined that all of the adverse events cost the government at least $4.4 billion annually and contributed to the death of approximately 180,000 patients.
According to Nancy Foster, an official with the American Hospital Association, health care providers "are focused on preventing harm. ... But as this report suggests, we do have a ways to go before we are where we want our performance to be."
Researchers called for greater oversight and financial incentives for hospitals to improve care and reduce errors.
According to a CMS administrator, the agency will "aggressively pursue recommendations to broaden the definition of adverse events, monitor and prevent them" (Wilson, New York Times, 11/15).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.