Hospital Errors Far More Common Than Previously Thought
A new study finds an astounding one in three hospital stays within the U.S. will be associated with a medical error or mistake. These new findings indicate medical errors are significantly more common than previously thought. In this study, researchers utilized a new tool to help identify medical errors in a review of 795 patient records. In doing so, they were able to identify 10 times the number of medical errors as compared with those found by using the Agency for Healthcare Research's (AHR) process for identifying medical errors. Previous reports of medical errors, many of which were based on the AHR's methods, are likely to have reported far fewer errors than what likely actually occurred. Of the 795 records reviewed in this study, the new method found 354 errors while the AHR's method resulted in the finding of just 35 medical errors. A separate study of medical errors based on insurance claims estimated the annual cost of medical errors resulting in patient harm to be in excess of 17 billion dollars. They found the three most common medical errors were bed sores, post-operative infections and persistent back pain following back surgery.
Source: Reuters. April 7, 2011.