Study: Every 1.7 minutes a Medicare beneficiary experiences a patient safety event

April 07, 2009

GOLDEN, Colo. (April 7, 2009) - The 2009 HealthGrades Patient Safety Excellence Award™ recipients were identified in a report issued today by the leading independent healthcare ratings organization. These hospitals represent an elite group that save lives, save money and prevent errors at a higher rate than other U.S. hospitals.

If all hospitals performed at the level of Patient Safety Excellence Award™ hospitals, approximately 211,697 patient safety events and 22,771 Medicare deaths could have been avoided while saving the U.S. approximately $2.0 billion from 2005 through 2007. Between 2005 and 2007, 913,215 total patient safety events were recorded among Medicare beneficiaries, which represents 2.3 percent of the nearly 38 million Medicare hospitalizations. This equates to one reported patient safety event every 1.7 minutes.

For the sixth consecutive year, HealthGrades has analyzed patient safety among Medicare patients in all of the nearly 5,000 U.S. non-federal hospitals based on 15 indicators of patient safety developed by the federal government's Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

This year, 242 hospitals, which represent the top five percent of all hospitals in the U.S., were recognized with a HealthGrades 2009 Patient Safety Excellence AwardTM. HealthGrades developed this award to give patients more information about choosing a hospital.

"Patient safety incidents are one of the leading causes of death in the U.S. The sad fact is that many, if not most, of these errors are preventable. Patients shouldn't die or experience unnecessary harm as a result of medical errors in hospitals," said Rick May, MD, senior physician consultant at HealthGrades and co-author of the study. "The good news is that there are hospitals that are doing an amazing job when it comes to patient safety and we commend them. Patients need to know that they have a substantially lower risk of experiencing a medical error and therefore a lower risk of death or complications when they are admitted to one of these exceptional top-performing hospitals."

Study highlights:

Large Safety Gaps Identified Between Top and Bottom Performing HospitalsPatient safety events are common at U.S. hospitalsCommon Patient Safety Events are Very CostlyLess Improvement Seen Among Most Common EventsApproximately One-in-Ten Medicare Patients with Patient Safety Events DiedHealthGrades' individual hospital ratings can be viewed for free at HealthGrades.com.

Methodology

The sixth annual HealthGrades Patient Safety in American Hospitals Study applies methodology developed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality to identify the incident rates of 15 patient safety indicators among Medicare patients at virtually all of the nation's nearly 5,000 nonfederal hospitals. Additionally, HealthGrades applied its methodology using 12 patient safety indicators to identify the best-performing hospitals, or HealthGrades Patient Safety Excellence Award™ Hospitals, which represent the top five percent of all U.S. hospitals.

The following are the patient safety indicators studied:
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About HealthGrades

Health Grades, Inc. (Nasdaq: HGRD - News) is the leading independent healthcare ratings organization, providing quality ratings, profiles and cost information on the nation's hospitals, physicians, nursing homes and prescription drugs. Millions of patients and many of the nation's largest employers, health plans and hospitals rely on HealthGrades' quality ratings, advisory services and decision-support resources. The HealthGrades Network of Web sites, including HealthGrades.com and WrongDiagnosis.com, is a top-ten health property according to ComScore and is the Internet's leading destination for patients choosing providers. More information on the company can be found at http://www.healthgrades.com.

HealthGrades

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