KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

One in Seven Medicare Patients Harmed By Problems In Hospital, HHS Report Finds

The New York Times: "One of every seven Medicare beneficiaries who is hospitalized is harmed as a result of problems with the medical care there, according to a new study [.pdf] from the Office of Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services. The study said unexpected adverse events added at least $4.4 billion a year to government health costs and contributed to the deaths of about 180,000 patients a year." Adverse events ranged "from a temporary health setback to death, during a hospital stay" and the study "said 44 percent of them were 'clearly or likely preventable'" (Wilson, 11/15).

USA Today: "The study is the first of its kind aimed at understanding 'adverse events' in hospitals - essentially, any medical care that causes harm to a patient, according to the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Inspector General. … Patients in the study, a nationally representative sample that focused on 780 Medicare patients discharged from hospitals in October 2008, suffered such problems as bed sores, infections and excessive bleeding from blood-thinning drugs, the report found. The federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality called the results 'alarming'" (Rubin, 11/16).

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