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Survey Finds Adverse Events in Hospitals Kill 15,000 Medicare Patients a Month

Posted on November 19, 2010

Adverse events in hospital care is killing an estimated 15,000 Medicare patients every month, or one in seven hospitalized Medicare patients, according to a government survey released Tuesday, November 16 and reported by USA Today.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) conducted a survey of adverse events in hospitals studied a representative sample of 780 Medicare patients discharged from hospitals in October 2008. The patients suffered a range of ailments, from infections to death. Of the 780 cases, 12 patients died. Five of those deaths were related to the use of blood-thinning medication. Two other deaths that were medication-related resulted in a patient suffering hypoglycemic coma and over-sedation that led another patient to respiratory failure. The focus of the survey was to have a better understanding of adverse events in hospitals since about 47 million Americans are enrolled in Medicare, a government health insurance program for people age 65 and older.

Peter Pronovost of Johns Hopkins University, is a leading advocate for reducing hospital errors, and was quoted in the article as saying, “We spend two pennies trying to deliver safe health care for every dollar we spent trying to develop new genes and new drugs. We have to invest in the science of health care delivery.” Not much progress has been made in health care delivery since a 1999 study by the Institute of Medicine on medical errors found that about 98,000 patients die a year from medical mistakes, including medication errors, infections, and under-diagnosis.

If you or a loved one has suffered needlessly from the effects of a medical or medication error by your physician, the Florida medical malpractice attorneys at Farah & Farah are available to talk with you about your legal rights.