On Tuesday, government officials reported that about 50,000 more patients survived hospitalization because medical staff committed to drop medical error rate by 17% or 1.3 million cases in 2013.
Of the 50,000 saved patients, about 20,000 lives were saved by preventing bedsores or pressure ulcers and about 11,000 lives were also saved by decreasing the numbers of drug events, such as giving the wrong medication or drug overdoses. An additional 6,400 patients are now alive because the health workers were more cautious and prevented falls.
Also, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service reported a 9% decline in the rate of hospital acquired conditions, such as pneumonia, infections (HAIs) or bedsores, between 2012 and 2013. The new rates are mainly due to fewer mistakes and historic improvements in US hospitals health care.
Sylvia Burwell, Secretary of Health, said these findings were based on analysis of thousands of medical records between 2010 and 2013. Before 2010, medical data were not available because they had been gathered differently.
The researchers have analyzed between 18,000 and 33,000 medical records for each year. They also found out that 10% of the hospitalized patients in the US hospitals acquired one ore more hospital acquired conditions. Burwell said the rate was still too high.
Burwell said 17% progress in decreasing these conditions was a big deal, but only a start. No American should ever lose his/her life or spend the holidays in a hospital because no one was able to prevent an additional condition, Burwell said,
In 2010, government officials said about 27% of Medicare patients looking for health care in US hospitals were injured during care. More than 13% of these patients were forced to stay longer in hospital because of these additional harms, were permanently disabled, almost died or really dies. And half of these incidents could have been prevented.
In 1999, the Institute of Medicine said 98,000 Americans die in hospitals each year from medical conditions that could have been prevented.
In 2013, a report published in Journal of Patient Safety said these figures were much larger – about 210,000 to 400,000 patients die each year from preventable medical errors. So, it seems medical errors are the leading cause of death in the US not cancer or heart disease.
Among the most common hospital acquired medical conditions are hospital acquired infections (HAIs). In 2011, there was an estimated number of HAIs of 721,000 in the US hospitals. Pneumonia and surgical site infections are the highest rated – about 157,500 cases, followed by gastrointestinal illnesses (123,100 cases), urinary tract infections (93,300), and primary bloodstream infections (71,900)
Dr. Patrick Conway said that the 17% drop in US medical error rate resulted in 1,3 million patients saved from unnecessary conditions and further savings of $12 billion.