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Article: 195,000 U.S. deaths blamed on hospital error


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How scary is this???

195,000 U.S. deaths blamed on hospital error

New estimate doubles previous figure, report says

Updated: 12:33 p.m. ET July 28, 2004WASHINGTON -

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 HealthGrades Inc. said its data covers all 50 states and is more up-to-date than a 1999 study from the Institute of Medicine that said 98,000 people a year die from medical errors.

"The HealthGrades study shows that the IOM report may have underestimated the 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 the company.

The company, which rates hospitals based on a variety of criteria and provides 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 percent of all hospital admissions (excluding obstetric patients) in the U.S. from 2000 to 2002," the company said in a statement.

HealthGrades included as mistakes failure to rescue dying patients and the death of low-risk patients from infections — neither of which the Institute of Medicine report included.

1.14 million 'patient-safety incidents'

It said it found about 1.14 million "patient-safety incidents" occurred among the 37 million hospitalizations.

"Of the total 323,993 deaths among Medicare patients in those years who developed 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 to 2002 and experienced a patient-safety incident died."

The U.S. government said it is trying to spearhead a move to get hospitals and 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 of leading causes of death included medical errors, it would show up as number six, ahead of diabetes, pneumonia, Alzheimer's disease and renal disease," Collier said.

© Reuters 2004. All rights reserved.

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I'm a nurse and I agree - hospitals (and clinics for that matter) are scary places. I think it is so important to always have a patient advocate/support person with you ALL the time and to not be afraid to speak up if something doesn't seem right. You might be viewed as a PITA - but so what!


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I am not at all surprised. I felt very lucky to come out without an infection. My husband was in my room 24/7 and had to intervene several times. I make my living selling medical equipment and have been in many hospitals. Most of them know nothing about "germs". They know they are suppose to wash their hands but don't. Most do not wear gloves. Most do not know how to cleanse an instument. I love my job because I feel I make a small difference teaching some of them the right way to do it. The problem is, after joint commission leaves, they forget what to do next. I know they are busy. I know that most of them care about their patients. But most of it can be prevented easily.


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Sorry that happened to your husband.

Also, I wonder how many lives are cut short by hospital mistakes? My husband was very strong. When he was hospitalized for chemo. side-effects, the nurse made a mistake and gave him his blood thinner late resulting in a large blood clot. The clot got infected. He was in the hospital again. Since he has come home, he has been too weak to do anything--I have even driven him to his radiation appointments. This is a man that worked every day through his first chemo./radiation. This nurse may have cost him his life or greatly shortened his life. That doesn't show up in the statistics at all.

I will take everyone's advice from now on and stay with him night & day.

Take care. The anger really has been worked through. Just had to vent one more time.

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