Friday, April 2, 2010

Six Key Things You Need To Know About Patient Safety

According to HealthGrades annual study, patient safety is still a serious concern for our nation's hospitals. But clearly some hospitals are making progress and are statistically safer than others. Here are their six key findings:

1) Large safety gaps exist between top and bottom performing hospitals
Patients at top performers were 43% less likely to experience a medical error.

2) Patient safety events are common at US hospitals
Almost 1 million events occurred among Medicare patients in the last 3 years studied representing 2.3% of Medicare admissions.

3) Common patient safety events are very costly
During those 3 years over $8.9 billion was spent on excess costs related to these events.

4) Less improvement seen among the most common events
While some patient safety indicators improved in 2008 compared to 2006, the most common ones and the most serious ones got worse. Those that got worse included bed sores, collapsed lung, post-operative hip fracture, post-operative physiologic and metabolic derangement, post-operative pulmonary embolism or deep vein thrombosis, post-operative sepsis, and transfusion reaction.

5) Approximately one in ten Medicare patients with safety related events died
In the 3 years studied (2006-2008) 99,180 deaths occurred in our hospitals among patients who experienced one or more of the 15 patient safety events.

6) Most common patient safety incidents
The top four and their incidence rate (per 1,000 patients) are: failure to rescue (92.71), decubitus ulcer (36.05), post-operative respiratory failure (17.52) and post-operative sepsis (16.53).

This is one of the most significant areas that hospital leaders deal with. I made this a major focus area as a hospital CEO and we at Compirion Healthcare Solutions also have helped a number of hospitals significantly improve their performance on these metrics. I can tell you having addressed this from both perspectives, that it takes an intense effort to change culture and make patient safety a top priority for every employee. If you have concerns and would like any consultation please feel free to contact us at compirion. com.

More on this later.

Mark Brodeur

A copy of the full report including a list of the 15 indicators studied can be found at

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