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Number of Preventable Hospital Deaths Remains a Mystery, Says Leading Medical Journal

image04-300x201[Photo Caption: Up to 15,000 elderly people may be losing their lives each month due to preventable hospital errors.]
A recent article in the noted medical policy journal Health Affairs claims that the number of people who die as a result of hospital-acquired conditions is still unclear. While some government agencies say 90,000 people die a year, the number may very well be vastly higher.

“The extent of patient harm in primary care….remains almost a mystery,” said the article. “If patients’ lives count, it’s long past time to count, and counter, every type of preventable harm.”

Hospital deaths are a particularly cruel blow for those who bring elderly loved ones in for treatment. According to recent figures from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), up 15,000 Medicare recipients may be losing their lives every month due to preventable errors.

Common types of hospital errors include:

  • Medication Errors (Wrong medication, wrong dosage, failing to account for other medications that patient is taking
  • Falls (Up to 10% of elderly hospital patients fall, sometimes related to medication errors or inattentive hospital staff)
  • Central Line Infections
  • Surgical Errors, including surgery performed on the wrong site or side of the body

According to Health Affairs, HHS is looking to reduce hospital deaths by 40 percent by the end of 2013, and plans on spending half a billion dollars on “safety improvement” contractors. So far, about 4,000 of the nation’s 5,000 acute-care hospitals have signed onto the HHS’s plan.
Related Nursing Homes Abuse Blog Entries:

Hepatitis Blamed for the Death of Four Residents at Assisted Living Facility

Medical Errors, Such as Pressure Ulcers, Costing U.S. $20 Billion Per Year

Medical Facilities Can Reduce the Incidence of Infection by Taking Some Basic Precautionary Steps
Resources:

Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Information on Hospital-Acquired Infections

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