Study:Hospital cost-cutting could boost errors

Hospitals that focus too tightly on cutting costs may create preventable problems such as medication errors and hospital-acquired infections, according to a new study by two Boston-area hospitals. To gather data, researchers studied four hospitals, including two urban teaching hospitals and two suburban hospitals, looking at 6,841 patient records over 12 months. The study found that when patient-to-nurse ratios at one of the four unnamed hospitals studied climbed 10 percent, the hospital saw a 28 percent increase in adverse events. Overall, the researchers found 1,530 adverse events which didn't result from the patient's presenting condition. This suggests that cost-cutting and improving patient safety--two goals central to hospital operations--are at odds, said senior author Dr. David Bates of Brigham and Women's Hospital (Bates' co-author is with Massachusetts General Hospital). The researchers are publishing their results in the journal Medical Care.

To get more background on the study:
- read this Boston Herald piece