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Medical-errors gap widens between best and worst hospitals: Healthgrades study

- Three-Year Study Covers 37 Million Hospitalizations, Uses AHRQ Indicators -

- Nation's Safest Hospitals, Identified in Study, Tend to Have "Culture of Safety" -

- Cost to Medicare of Patient Safety Incidents: $3 Billion Annually -

- Hospital-Acquired Infections Grow, Prove Costly -

Golden, Colo. (May 2, 2005) Patient safety incidents at America's hospitals increased slightly, but the nation's safest hospitals grew even safer, resulting in a wider gap in patient safety incident rates among the nation's best and worst hospitals, according to a new study of 37 million patient records released today by HealthGrades, an organization that evaluates the quality of hospitals, physicians and nursing homes for consumers, corporations, hospitals and health plans.

The second annual HealthGrades Patient Safety in American Hospitals Study finds that 1.18 million patient safety incidents occurred among Medicare hospitalizations in the years 2001, 2002 and 2003, with the cost to Medicare approaching $3 billion annually. That compares with 1.14 million incidents in the three years beginning with 2000.

The study also finds that hospital-acquired infections grew by 20% and accounted for 30% of the costs of patient safety incidents.

"The reason we see the hospitals with the lowest incident rates improving the fastest is that they have what I call a 'culture of safety'," said HealthGrades Vice President of Medical Affairs Samantha Collier, M.D., who authored the study. "A 'culture of safety' requires rapid identification of errors and root causes and the successful implementation of improvement strategies, which can only be achieved with strong leadership, critical thinking, and commitment to excellence. For patients, it's important to know which hospitals meet this standard, as they are nearly 50% less likely to have an incident at hospitals in the top 10%, according to the HealthGrades stud
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Contact: Scott Shapiro
sshapiro@healthgrades.com
720-963-6584
HealthGrades
2-May-2005


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