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Patient-safety events common: HealthGrades study


By Jean DerGurahian
Posted: April 7, 2009 - 12:00 pm ET
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Patient-safety events are common at hospitals across the country, with Medicare beneficiaries experiencing an event every 1.7 minutes, according to the annual HealthGrades study of Medicare patients.

There were 913,215 patient-safety events between 2005 and 2007 and 97,755 in-hospital deaths among patients who experienced one or more of those events, HealthGrades reported in its study. The events account for more than $6.9 billion in costs, according to the organization, which also announced its 2009 HealthGrades Patient Safety Excellence Award winners.

The healthcare ratings organization identified the incident rates of 15 indicators developed by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality—such as select infections, anesthesia complications, accidental puncture, bed sores and death in low-mortality diagnosis-related groupings—to determine performance in the country's 5,000 hospitals.

Performance improvement was not evident in seven of the 15 indicators—including bed sores, sepsis and pulmonary embolism—in 2007 compared with 2005, HealthGrades said. The organization concluded that had all hospitals produced outcomes to the level of its top 5% performing hospitals, the industry could have avoided 22,771 deaths, 211,697 events and saved $2 billion.

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