Report Indicates Medical Errors Top Cause of Death in Hospitals

Confirming results of prior reports over the course of the past several years, HealthGrades’ most recent study found that medical errors remain a serious problem in U.S. hospitals where they account for a high percentage of the recorded deaths.

The researchers analyzed the records of Medicare beneficiaries treated at some 5,000 hospitals across the country from 2002 to 2004 and utilized 13 patient safety “indicators” developed by the federal government to evaluate admissions.

The study found about 1.24 million patient safety incidents in those years as compared with 1.14 million between 2000 and 2002. The estimated cost of the “incidents” was $9.3 billion.

Failure to save the lives of patients who developed complications, bloodstream infections, and bedsores accounted for almost 63% of the patient safety incidents.

Close to 25% of the Medicare beneficiaries who experienced patient safety incidents died during the period studied. Of that percentage, some 82% of the deaths were considered “preventable” by the researchers.

The study found hospitals in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan and Kansas ranked highest on patient safety, while those in New York, New Jersey, Nevada, Tennessee and the District of Columbia ranked lowest.

A HealthGrades spokesperson stated that the overall number of patient safety incidents in American hospitals is continuing to increase at an enormous cost and there remains a “large gap” between incidence rates at best and worst hospitals.

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