Hospital Care Fatal for Some Patients
November 16, 2010
An estimated 15,000 Medicare patients die each month in part because of care they receive in the hospital, says a government study released today.
The study is the first of its kind aimed at understanding "adverse events" in hospitals -- essentially, any medical care that causes harm to a patient, according to the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Inspector General.
Patients in the study, a nationally representative sample that focused on 780 Medicare patients discharged from hospitals in October 2008, suffered such problems as bed sores, infections and excessive bleeding from blood-thinning drugs, the report found. The federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality called the results "alarming."
Among the findings in the report obtained by USA Today:
- Of the 780 cases, 12 patients died as a result of hospital care. Five were related to blood-thinning medication.
- Two other medication-related deaths involved inadequate insulin management resulting in hypoglycemic coma and respiratory failure resulting from oversedation.
- About one in seven Medicare hospital patients -- or about 134,000 of the estimated 1 million discharged in October 2008 -- were harmed from medical care.
- Another one in seven experienced temporary harm because the problem was caught in time and reversed.
About 47 million Americans are enrolled in Medicare, a government health insurance program for people 65 and older and those of any age with kidney failure.
Source: Rita Rubin, "Hospital Care Fatal for Some Patients," USA Today, November 16, 2010.
Browse more articles on Health Issues