Report Says 195,000 Deaths
Due to Hospital Error
As many as 195,000 people a year could
be dying in U.S. hospitals because of easily prevented errors,
a company said in an estimate that doubles previous figures.
Lakewood, Colorado-based HealthGrades
Inc. said its data covers all 50 states and is more up-to-date
than a 1999 study from the Institute of Medicine that said 98,000
people a year die from medical errors.
"The HealthGrades study shows that
the IOM report may have underestimated the number of deaths due
to medical errors, and, moreover, that there is little evidence
that patient safety has improved in the last five years," said
Dr. Samantha Collier, vice president of medical affairs at the
The company, which rates hospitals
based on a variety of criteria and provides information to insurers
and health plans, said its researchers looked at three years of
Medicare data in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.
"This Medicare population represented
approximately 45 percent of all hospital admissions (excluding
obstetric patients) in the U.S. from 2000 to 2002," the company
said in a statement.
HealthGrades included as mistakes
failure to rescue dying patients and the death of low-risk patients
from infections -- neither of which the Institute of Medicine
It said it found about 1.14 million
"patient-safety incidents" occurred among the 37 million hospitalizations.
"Of the total 323,993 deaths among
Medicare patients in those years who developed one or more patient-safety
incidents, 263,864, or 81 percent, of these deaths were directly
attributable to the incidents," it added.
"One in every four Medicare patients
who were hospitalized from 2000 to 2002 and experienced a patient-safety
The U.S. government said it is
trying to spearhead a move to get hospitals and clinics to use
electronic databases and prescribing methods. The Institute of
Medicine report said many deaths were due to medication prescribing
errors or to errors in delivering medications.
"If the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention's annual list of leading causes of death included
medical errors, it would show up as number six, ahead of diabetes,
pneumonia, Alzheimer's disease and renal disease," Collier said.
Reference Source 89
July 28, 2004