Efforts to make hospitals safer for patients are falling short, researchers report in the first large study in a decade to analyze harm from medical care and to track it over time.
The study, conducted from 2002 to 2007 in 10 North Carolina hospitals, found that harm to patients was common and that the number of incidents did not decrease over time. The most common problems were complications from procedures or drugs and hospital-acquired infections.
“It is unlikely that other regions of the country have fared better,” said Dr. Christopher P. Landrigan, the lead author of the study and an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School. The study is being published on Thursday in The New England Journal of Medicine.
It is one of the most rigorous efforts to collect data about patient safety since a landmark report in 1999 found that medical mistakes caused as many as 98,000 deaths and more than one million injuries a year in the United States. That report, by the Institute of Medicine, an independent group that advises the government on health matters, led to a national movement to reduce errors and make hospital stays less hazardous to patients’ health…
Dr. Landrigan’s team focused on North Carolina because its hospitals, compared with those in most states, have been more involved in programs to improve patient safety.
But instead of improvements, the researchers found a high rate of problems. About 18 percent of patients were harmed by medical care, some more than once, and 63.1 percent of the injuries were judged to be preventable. Most of the problems were temporary and treatable, but some were serious, and a few — 2.4 percent — caused or contributed to a patient’s death…
RTFA. Disappointing? Yes. Surprising? No. Liable to support further improvements in healthcare beyond the tentative steps taken by the Obama administration? Don’t hold your breath.
Cowards who are called Democrats, reactionaries in the employ of insurance companies – called Republicans, guarantee that little improvement in cost, efficiency or safety of medical care in the United States has a chance for at least another couple of years.
The ignoranuses who just voted in a flock of less-than-useless Republicans may yet have a chance to join folks who voted out the least competent Blue Dog papier-mache Democrats – in 2012.