More than 13 percent of hospitalized Medicare beneficiaries were harmed during a hospital stay, according to a study released by the HHS Office of the Inspector General (PDF, 81 pages).
The report is based on a review of a nationally representative sample of 780 patients in October 2008. Based on the sample, the report projects that 134,000 Medicare patients a month experience at least one adverse event during their hospitalization. About 1.5 percent died as a result of those adverse events, which projects to 15,000 patients in a single month.
From a financial standpoint, the report says the hospital care associated with those events cost Medicare an estimated $324 million in that month.
Adverse events, identified through a review of medical records, included the National Quality Forum Serious Reportable Events; Medicare hospital-acquired conditions; and events resulting in prolonged hospital stays, permanent harm, life-sustaining intervention, or death.
The reviewers found that 44 percent of the events were preventable, prompting the OIG’s office to recommend that the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services “broaden patient safety efforts to include all types of adverse events and enhance efforts to identify events” and for CMS to “provide further incentives for hospitals to reduce adverse events through its payment and oversight functions, including strengthening the Medicare hospital-acquired conditions policy and holding hospitals accountable for adopting evidence-based practices.”