Hospital care associated with adverse and temporary-harm events cost the Medicare program about $324 million in October 2008, according to a report from HHS' inspector general's office (PDF).
Report cites cost of adverse events to Medicare
While the findings showed that about 13.5% of hospitalized Medicare beneficiaries experienced adverse events during their hospital stays—and the same percentage experienced events that resulted in temporary harm—physician reviewers found that 44% of these events were “clearly or likely preventable.”
The inspector general's office recommended that the CMS should use Present on Admission Indicators in billing data to calculate the frequency of adverse events occurring at hospitals and should look for opportunities to hold hospitals accountable for adoption of evidence-based practice guidelines. Meanwhile, the office suggested that HHS' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality should sponsor periodic, ongoing measurement of the incidence and adverse events and should also continue to encourage hospital participation with patient safety organizations, which are entities that receive adverse-event reports from hospitals and forward that information to a national AHRQ database.
“AHRQ concurred with our recommendations, stating that adverse events affect hospital patients at an ‘alarming rate' and that it must continue working to improve patient safety,” according to the report, which added that AHRQ intends to continue improving efforts to identify and reduce adverse events through research and collaboration with other agencies. The CMS also concurred with the recommendations and said it will “aggressively pursue” broadening the scope and definition of patient-safety efforts, according to the report.
"We are committed to taking additional needed steps to improve patient care," the American Hospital Association said in a statement about the report. "That is why we support the report's recommendations for further research to improve our understanding of what caused the error and how to prevent it from happening again."
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