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Hospital Errors Rise 3 Percent -- HealthGrades Patient-safety Study

Patient safety incidents at the nation’s hospitals rose three percent over the years 2003 to 2005,// but the nation's top-performing hospitals had a 40 percent lower rate of medical errors when compared with the poorest-performing hospitals, according to the largest annual study of patient-safety issued today by HealthGrades, the leading independent healthcare ratings company.

The HealthGrades study of 40.56 million Medicare hospitalization records over the years 2003 to 2005 also found:
· Patient-safety incidents continue to rise in American hospitals, with 1.16 million preventable patient-safety incidents occurring over the three years studied among Medicare patients in the nation's hospitals, an incidence rate of 2.86 percent.
· 247,662 deaths were potentially preventable over the three years, and Medicare patients who had one or more patient-safety incidents had a one-in-four chance of dying.
· The excess cost to hospitals was $8.6 billion over three years, with some of the most common incidents proving to be the most costly.
· Ten of the 16 patient-safety incidents tracked worsened from 2003 to 2005, by an average of almost 12 percent, while seven incidents improved, on average, by six percent. Patient-safety incidents with the greatest increase in incident rates were post operative sepsis (34.28 percent), post-operative respiratory failure (18.70 percent) and selected infections due to medical care (12.23 percent).
· Patient-safety incidents with the highest incidence rates were decubitus ulcer, failure to rescue and post-operative respiratory failure.

"The cost of medical errors at American hospitals in both mortality and dollar terms continues to be significant, and the 'chasm in quality' between the nation's top and bottom hospitals, which HealthGrades has documented in this and other studies, remains." said Dr. Samantha Collier, HealthGrades' chief medical officer and the primary author of the study. "But
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