NY Times: “Study Finds No Progress in Safety at Hospitals”

The November 25, 2010 New York Times has reported on a study that has found that no progress has been made at improving patient safety in hospitals.

The study is reported in last week’s New England Journal of Medicine.  It was conducted from 2002 to 2007 in 10 North Carolina hospitals, found that harm to patients was common and that the number of incidents did not decrease over time. The most common problems were complications from procedures or drugs and hospital-acquired infections.  

As the author explained,

[t]he researchers found a high rate of problems. About 18 percent of patients were harmed by medical care, some more than once, and 63.1 percent of the injuries were judged to be preventable. Most of the problems were temporary and treatable, but some were serious, and a few — 2.4 percent — caused or contributed to a patient’s death, the study found.

The article went on to say this: 

recent government report found similar results, saying that in October 2008, 13.5 percent of Medicare beneficiaries — 134,000 patients — experienced “adverse events” during hospital stays. The report said the extra treatment required as a result of the injuries could cost Medicare several billion dollars a year. And in 1.5 percent of the patients — 15,000 in the month studied — medical mistakes contributed to their deaths. That report, issued this month by the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services, was based on a sample of Medicare records from patients discharged from hospitals.

Evidence continues to mount that patient safety has taken a back seat to greater profits in the health care industry, but the drumbeat for restricting patient’s rights continues. 

Read the NYT article here.