Easily Preventable Hospital Errors Can Kill You Too

If you believe as I do that doctors are the leading cause of death, largely due to a flawed health care system that promotes needless procedures and "band-aid" drugs that merely treat the symptoms, not the causes, of disease, this report released by Colorado-based HealthGrades Inc. may not surprise you very much. But it should open some more eyes about the desperate need for change in the existing health care paradigm.

As many as 195,000 people a year could be dying in U.S. hospitals because of easily prevented errors, an estimate that doubles previously recognized figures. HealthGrades says its data covers all 50 states and is more current than a 1999 study from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) that reported 98,000 people a year die from medical errors. The company also found there is little evidence that patient safety has improved in the last five years.

HealthGrades, which rates hospitals based on a variety of criteria and provides information to insurers and health plans, said researchers looked at three years of Medicare data. The Medicare population represented approximately 45 percent of all hospital admissions (excluding obstetric patients) in the U.S. from 2000-02, the company said.

It also included as mistakes failure to rescue dying patients and the death of low-risk patients from infections--neither of which the IOM report included. The company also found about 1.14 million "patient-safety incidents" occurred among the 37 million hospitalizations.

Yahoo News July 27, 2004

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