HealthGrades patient safety study shows increase in hospital incidents, gaps among state, hospitals

Patient safety incidents in American hospitals grew from 1.18 million to 1.24 million among the 40 million hospitalizations covered under the Medicare program, and incidents varied widely from state to state, and among the best and worst hospitals, according to a study released today by HealthGrades, the leading healthcare ratings company.

"Overall we see the number of patient safety incidents in American hospitals continuing to increase, at an enormous cost, and we still see a large gap between the incidence rates at the nation's top-performing and worst-performing hospitals," said Dr. Samantha Collier, HealthGrades vice president of medical affairs. "But we do find the results of serious attempts to grapple with this issue in the success of top-performing hospitals and in progressive states like Minnesota."

The third HealthGrades Patient Safety in American Hospitals study, the largest annual study of its kind, also finds:

Differences Among Hospitals

  • Medicare patients going to hospitals ranked among the top 15 percent in terms of patient safety incidents had, on average, 43 percent lower incidence of patient safety incidents compared to bottom-ranked hospitals
  • If all hospitals performed at the level of the top 15 percent, 280,134 fewer patient safety incidents and 44,153 fewer deaths among Medicare patients would have occurred, saving $2.45 billion during the years 2002 through 2004
  • Of the 304,702 deaths that occurred among patients who developed one or more patient safety incidents, 250,246 were potentially preventable
  • Medicare beneficiaries experiencing one or more patient safety incidents had a one-in-four chance of dying during their hospitalization, a rate that is unchanged since HealthGrades' first study

Number and Cost of Patient Safety Incidents

  • Approximately 1.24 mi

Contact: Scott Shapiro

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