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Study Says Medical Errors Leading Cause of Death in Hospitals

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Medical errors remain a leading cause of death and injury at hospitals nationwide, and the effort to improve patient safety at the facilities “is too slow and should be a cause for great alarm,” according to a study released on Monday by HealthGrades, the Syracuse Post-Standard reports.

For the study, researchers examined the records of Medicare beneficiaries treated at about 5,000 hospitals nationwide between 2002 and 2004 and used 13 patient safety indicators developed by the federal government to evaluate admissions. The study finds that about 1.24 million patient safety incidents occurred between 2002 and 2004, compared with 1.14 million between 2000 and 2002, at a cost of $9.3 billion. According to the study, failure to save the lives of Medicare beneficiaries who developed complications, bloodstream infections and bedsores accounted for almost 63% of the patient safety incidents. Almost 25% of Medicare beneficiaries who experienced patient safety incidents died between 2002 and 2004, and 82% of those deaths likely were preventable, according to the study. The study finds that hospitals in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan and Kansas ranked highest on patient safety and that facilities in New York, New Jersey, Nevada, Tennessee and the District of Columbia ranked lowest, as pointed out by the Syracuse Post-Standard report about the study. Samantha Collier, vice president of medical affairs for HealthGrades, said:

Overall, we see the number of patient-safety incidents in American hospitals continuing to increase, at an enormous cost, and we still see a large gap between the incidence rates at the nation’s top-performing and worst-performing hospitals.