Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Report Says 195,000 Deaths Due To Hospital Error

http://news.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=healthNews&storyID=5790535

Report Says 195,000 Deaths Due To Hospital Error
7-27-4

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- As many as 195,000 people a year could be dying in U.S. hospitals because of easily prevented errors, a company said on Tuesday in an estimate that doubles previous figures.Lakewood, Colorado-based Health Grades Inc. said its data covers all 50states and is more up-to-date than a 1999 study from the Institute ofMedicine that said 98,000 people a year die from medical errors." The Health Grades study shows that the IOM report may have underestimatedthe number of deaths due to medical errors, and, moreover, that there is little evidence that patient safety has improved in the last five years," said Dr. Samantha Collier, vice president of medical affairs at thecompany. The company, which rates hospitals based on a variety of criteria andprovides information to insurers and health plans, said its researchers looked at three years of Medicare data in all 50 states and Washington, D.C." This Medicare population represented approximately 45 per cent of allhospital admissions (excluding obstetric patients) in the U.S. from 2000to 2002," the company said in a statement. Health Grades included as mistakes failure to rescue dying patients and the death of low-risk patients from infections -- neither of which theInstitute of Medicine report included. It said it found about 1.14 million "patient-safety incidents" occurredamong the 37 million hospitalizations." Of the total 323,993 deaths among Medicare patients in those years whodeveloped one or more patient-safety incidents, 263,864, or 81 percent, of these deaths were directly attributable to the incidents," it added." One in every four Medicare patients who were hospitalized from 2000 to2002 and experienced a patient-safety incident died." The U.S. government said it is trying to spearhead a move to get hospitalsand clinics to use electronic databases and prescribing methods. The Institute of Medicine report said many deaths were due to medication prescribing errors or to errors in delivering medications." If the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's annual list ofleading causes of death included medical errors, it would show up asnumber six, ahead of diabetes, pneumonia, Alzheimer's disease and renal disease," Collier said.