Medical errors may be 10 times more common than previous estimates

Errors may occur in as many as one-third of all hospital inpatient admissions, concludes a new study published in Health Affairs.

The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Utah and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, focused on 795 patient records where four adverse patient events were voluntarily reported by providers. Under guidelines promulgated by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, 35 adverse events were reported. However, the study's researchers uncovered 354 events.

The researchers noted that their figures were inherently conservative because they were based only on the medical records and not real-time observation.

"Without doubt, we've seen improvements in health care over the past decade, and even pockets of excellence, but overall progress has been agonizingly slow," said Health Affairs Editor-in-Chief Susan Dentzer. "It's clear that we still have a great deal of work to do in order to achieve a healthcare system that is consistently high-quality--that is, safe, effective, patient-centered, efficient, timely, and devoid of disparities based on race or ethnicity."

To learn more:
- read this report in the National Underwriter article
- read this Reuters article
- check out the Health Affairs abstract