Medicare Deaths

"From 2004 through 2006, patient safety errors resulted in 238,337 potentially preventable deaths of U.S. Medicare patients and cost the Medicare program $8.8 billion, according to the fifth annual Patient Safety in American Hospitals Study."

So begins this article found on the MSN website.  The article notes that   (a)"of the 270,491 deaths that occurred among patients who experienced one or more patient safety incidents, 238,337 were potentially preventable," and (b) "if all hospitals performed at the level of the top-ranked hospitals, about 220,106 patient safety incidents and 37,214 patient deaths could have been avoided, and about $2 billion could have been saved."

Here is a copy of the HealthGrades press release.  It includes this interesting remark: "We now have convincing case studies that perfection is possible when will to change and improve is present and the effort is made to implement new practices. While these examples illustrate that we have a much clearer idea of what we need to do, formidable barriers remain. Many in the industry continue to deny that truly safe care is achievable, thus the status quo continues, resulting in variation in patient safety in U.S. hospitals that is large and unpredictable. Numerous studies, including the 2007 AHRQ National Healthcare Quality Report (NHQR) assessing the state of hospital quality and patient safety, conclude and support the findings the progress remains modest and variation in healthcare quality remains high.”

Here is a copy of the study itself.

One reminder.  This study only covers the Medicare population.   Medicare is only "for people age 65 or older, some disabled people under age 65, and people of all ages with End-Stage Renal Disease (permanent kidney failure treated with dialysis or a transplant."  Thus it covers far less than one-half of the 300 million people in this country.