Health - Reuters
Report Says 195,000 Deaths Due to Hospital Error
Tue Jul 27, 6:23 PM ET
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - As many as 195,000 people a year could be
dying in U.S. hospitals because of easily prevented errors, a company
said on Tuesday in an estimate that doubles previous figures.
Lakewood, Colorado-based HealthGrades Inc. said its data covers all
50 states and is more up-to-date than a 1999 study from the Institute
of Medicine (news - web sites) that said 98,000 people a year die
from medical errors.
"The HealthGrades study shows that the IOM report may have
underestimated the number of deaths due to medical errors, and,
moreover, that there is little evidence that patient safety has
improved in the last five years," said Dr. Samantha Collier, vice
president of medical affairs at the company.
The company, which rates hospitals based on a variety of criteria and
provides information to insurers and health plans, said its
researchers looked at three years of Medicare data in all 50 states
and Washington, D.C.
"This Medicare population represented approximately 45 percent of all
hospital admissions (excluding obstetric patients) in the U.S. from
2000 to 2002," the company said in a statement.
HealthGrades included as mistakes failure to rescue dying patients
and the death of low-risk patients from infections -- neither of
which the Institute of Medicine report included.
It said it found about 1.14 million "patient-safety incidents"
occurred among the 37 million hospitalizations.
"Of the total 323,993 deaths among Medicare patients in those years
who developed one or more patient-safety incidents, 263,864, or 81
percent, of these deaths were directly attributable to the
incidents," it added.
"One in every four Medicare patients who were hospitalized from 2000
to 2002 and experienced a patient-safety incident died."
The U.S. government said it is trying to spearhead a move to get
hospitals and clinics to use electronic databases and prescribing
methods. The Institute of Medicine report said many deaths were due
to medication prescribing errors or to errors in delivering
"If the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (news - web
sites)'s annual list of leading causes of death included medical
errors, it would show up as number six, ahead of diabetes, pneumonia,
Alzheimer's disease (news - web sites) and renal disease," Collier