Improvements in Hospital Error Rates Due to Financial Incentives

The report from the Agency on Healthcare Research and Quality suggests that 50,000 lives were saved during the period from 2010 to 2013 as a result of a reduction in preventable medical errors in hospitals. This is good news for patients.

However, it is not near enough. The report itself suggests that there remain 121 preventable hospital acquired injuries for every 1000 discharges. In addition, the estimates are as high as 400,000 deaths each year from preventable medical errors in hospitals meaning that even with the improvement, over 300,000 deaths will still occur each year along with millions of serious injuries.

One thing that is clear is that more can be done. And the way to do this is to expand on what has already been done. Medicare stopped paying for treatment related to complications resulting from a list of hospital acquired conditions. Remarkably, most of the improvements cited in the AHRQ study are improvements in errors on that list. Perhaps, this is not a coincidence?

The AHRQ’s has created a lengthly list of “never events”. That list of “never events” is far more comprehensive than the Medicare list. It seems that the next step would be to expand the Medicare list to include more items from the list of AHRQ “never events” . Once the financial incentives have been increased, there is a good chance that further remarkable improvements will be made in patient safety.

In the meantime, the error rates will continue at an unacceptable pace with millions of patients harmed or killed each year. If you or a loved one among the victims of these errors, the Albuquerque medical malpractice attorneys at Collins & Collins, P.C. can be reached at (505) 242-5958 for a review of your case.

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