Hospital errors climb 3 percent

A new study suggests that hospital errors have increased appreciably from 2003 to 2005, with top-rated hospitals substantially better than worst-performing hospitals. The study, the fourth-annual HealthGrades Patient Safety in American Hospitals, found that the highest-rated facilities had 40 percent lower medical error rates than the worst performers. According to HealthGrades, there were 1.16 million patient safety problems within the Medicare population during the study period, affecting about 2.86 percent of all patients. These incidents included 247,662 potentially preventable deaths. All told, these incidents cost Medicare $8.6 billion during the study period. Problems that increased the most during that period including post-operative sepsis (34.3 percent); post-operative respiratory failure (18.7 percent) and infections due to medical care (12.2 percent). If all hospitals had performed as well as the best-rated hospitals, 206,286 medical errors and 34,393 deaths might have been avoided, saving Medicare $1.75 billion, the study concluded.

To get more data from the HealthGrades study:
- read this HealthDay News piece