If you’re on Medicare – don’t fall sick

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A friend of mine pointed out some shocking data from a report released today from the Office of Inspector General.
More than a quarter of Medicare hospitalizations result in adverse events, half of them “serious” (meaning prolonged hospital stay, permanent harm, need for life sustaining intervention, death).  Strikingly, almost half these situations arise are preventable.  In other words they are the result of medical errors, sub-standard care, lack of patient monitoring and assessment and hospital acquired infections!  According to the study, these cost the taxpayer over $4 billion in 2008 (which is when the sample was taken from).
Here’s a link to the full report: http://bit.ly/recon1110a
What’s really interesting is that this contrasts with the widely publicized statistic that only 1% of hospitalized Medicare eligibles experience an adverse event per the National Quality Forum guidelines and that a similar % get hospital acquired infections per the Medicare list of such infections.  Is this a question of measuring and therefore fixing only a very narrow part of the problem.
Given CMS reaction to the report (conciliatory) we would expect them to substantially widen the definition of tracked adverse events to match the broader list used by the OIG.  And hopefully this will lead to greater focus on quality efforts by hospitals.