- Three-Year Study Covers 37 Million Hospitalizations, Uses AHRQ Indicators -
- Nation’s Safest Hospitals, Identified in Study, Tend to Have "Culture of Safety" -
- Cost to Medicare of Patient Safety Incidents: $3 Billion Annually -
- Hospital-Acquired Infections Grow, Prove Costly -
Patient safety incidents at America’s hospitals increased slightly, but the nation’s safest hospitals grew even safer, resulting in a wider gap in patient safety incident rates among the nation’s best and worst hospitals, according to a new study of 37 million patient records released today by HealthGrades, an organization that evaluates the quality of hospitals, physicians and nursing homes for consumers, corporations, hospitals and health plans.
The second annual HealthGrades Patient Safety in American Hospitals Study finds that 1.18 million patient safety incidents occurred among Medicare hospitalizations in the years 2001, 2002 and 2003, with the cost to Medicare approaching $3 billion annually. That compares with 1.14 million incidents in the three years beginning with 2000.
The study also finds that hospital-acquired infections grew by 20% and accounted for 30% of the costs of patient safety incidents.
"The reason we see the hospitals with the lowest incident rates improving the fastest is that they have what I call a ’culture of safety’," said HealthGrades Vice President of Medical Affairs Samantha Collier, M.D., who authored the study. "A ’culture of safety’ requires rapid identification of errors and root causes and the successful implementation of improvement strategies, which can only be achieved with strong leadership, critical thinking, and commitment to excellence. For patients, it’s important to know which hospitals meet this standard, as they are nearly 50% less likely to have an incident at hospitals in the top 10%, according to the HealthGrades study."
The study, which applies 13 patient safety indicators (PSIs) identified by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) to Medicare hospitalizations, produced the following findings:
"We found that that highest incidence rates were in the categories of Failure to Rescue, Decubitus Ulcer and Post-Operative Sepsis," continued Dr. Collier. "Since HealthGrades’ first Patient Safety study in 2004, which identified Failure to Rescue as a major source of patient safety issues, we were gratified to see the Institute for Healthcare Improvement advocate for -- and providers begin to adopt -- protocols for minimizing these events."
Distinguished Hospital Awards and Findings
Based on the study, HealthGrades identified 135 hospitals falling into the top 10% in the nation in terms of patient safety, qualifying them to receive the HealthGrades Distinguished Hospital Award for Patient SafetyTM. The award was designed to highlight hospitals with the best records of patient safety in the nation and to encourage consumers to research their local hospitals’ patient-safety records before undergoing a procedure.
The study is based on 13 of AHRQ’s patient safety indicators, applied to the most recent MedPar file of Medicare admissions at nearly 5,000 hospitals covering 2001, 2002 and 2003. Teaching hospitals and non-teaching hospitals were evaluated separately, based on a recommendation from AHRQ that hospitals be compared to their peer group. All data was risk adjusted, so that hospitals with sicker patient populations could be compared equally with others.
The 13 AHRQ indicators are:
The complete study and methodology can be found at http://www.healthgrades.com.
Scott Shapiro | EurekAlert!
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