Hospitals Can Be Fatal, Especially For Medicare Patients
Maybe you suspected this, particularly if you have had contact with a Medicare recipient while he or she was in the hospital, but now a government study confirms it: Medicare patients are dying in hospitals because of the care they receive.
In a Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) sample, which it called 'nationally representative,' 780 Medicare patients who were discharged from hospitals in October 2008 had bedsores, infections, and excessive bleeding from blood-thinning drugs. Fourteen of these patients died as a result of hospital care, of which five were related to blood thinning medication, and two were related to poor insulin management.
But those results don't begin to add up to the estimated 15,000 Medicare patients who die each month, at least in part because of the care they received in the hospital. One in seven Medicare patients are harmed by medical care, and another one in seven experience temporary harm that is caught in time to reverse the danger. That's two in seven Medicare patients, almost 30 percent, who are at risk of leaving the hospital dead or, at the very least, worse than when they went in.
Dr. Peter Pronovost of Johns Hopkins University has spent several years trying to change the environments of hospital units, making them more patient oriented. Co--author of the book Safe Patients, Smart Hospitals, about his findings in those hospitals, Pronovost said medical mistakes are "an enormous public- health problem."
"We spend two pennies trying to deliver safe health care for every dollar we spend trying to develop new genes and new drugs," Pronovost told USA Today. "We have to invest in the science of health care delivery."
The DHHS findings were called alarming by the government's Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. I'm sure many Medicare patients would have stronger words for these findings.
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