Deaths from Medical Malpractice

It is getting worse. A study of patients in our Medicare population has found an alarming number of incidents and deaths.

The study looked discharge records of Medicare patients and used 16 of “20 indicators for potentially preventable patient safety incidents that could be readily identified in hospital discharge data. This tool set of 20 evidence-based PSIs was created and released to the public in 2003 to be used by various healthcare stakeholders to assess and improve patient safety in U.S. hospitals.”

They found:

– Approximately 1.24 million total patient safety incidents occurred in almost 40 million hospitalizations in the Medicare population. These incidents were associated with $9.3 billion of excess cost during 2002 through 2004. For the second year in a row, patient safety incidents have increased-up from 1.14 and 1.18 million reported in HealthGrades’ First and Second Annual Patient Safety in American Hospitals studies, respectively.
– Of the 304,702 deaths that occurred among patients who developed one or more patient safety incidents, 250,246 were potentially preventable.
– Medicare beneficiaries that developed one or more patient safety incidents had a one-in-four chance of dying during the hospitalization during the period covered, 2002-2004.

Tennessee ranked 48th for patient safety in the nation.

For example, the organziation determined that Tennessee’s rate of post-operative sepsis was almost 20 incidents per 1000 procedures, 20% higher than expected and almost four times that of Minnesota.
Also, he Tennessee death rate in Low Mortality DRGs was 24.5% higher than expected.

The report is by Health Grades; read it here.

Note: this study just looked at Medicare patient deaths. The Medicare population includes less than 20% of all Americans.

The following people are eligible for Medicare:

-Persons 65 or older who are U.S. citizens or have been legal residents for 5 years AND who have worked for at least 40 calendar quarters (10 years) or are the spouse of someone who has worked for 40 calendar quarters.
-Persons 65 or older who are U.S. citizens or have been legal residents for 5 years and who have not worked for 40 calendar quarters may be able to buy Medicare coverage.
-Persons under 65 who have been entitled to a monthly Social Security Disability Insurance benefit or Railroad Retirement Disability benefit for 24 months, either on their own work record, or on that of a parent or a deceased spouse In order to qualify for disability benefits of any kind, the individual must have worked a minimum number of calendar quarters. The required number varies depending on the individual’s age at the onset of disability.
-Persons under 65 who have been diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and are entitled to monthly Disability Insurance benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board. Such individuals are entitled to Medicare the first month that they receive the Disability Insurance benefit.
-Persons of any age who have end stage renal disease (ESRD) and are in need of dialysis or a kidney transplant. Such persons must qualify for monthly benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board through their own work record or that of a parent or spouse.

(Quoted from this site.)