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Hospitals Hurting Patients 2007-11-29

Posted by clype in Articles of Interest.
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One in 10 patients is harmed while in hospital, new research suggests.

A review of the notes of 1006 patients found between 8 and 10 per cent were harmed because of the “care” they received, and up to around half of the incidents could have been prevented.

Patients undergoing surgery were most likely to be harmed but other problems included falls, burns and complications leading to heart attacks.

More than half
(56 per cent) of the incidents caused injury that lasted between a few days and four weeks. Another 17 per cent left patients disabled for up to six months, 4 per cent caused disability for six to 12 months and another 11 per cent caused permanent disability.

  • A further one in 10 errors contributed to the patient’s death.

Researchers studied patients admitted to one large teaching hospital in the north of England between January and May 2004. They published their research in the journal ‘Quality and Safety in Health Care’.

Although the results related to one trust, the experts said they were likely to be replicated across other hospitals. Adverse events noted in the study meant patients had to stay in hospital for an extra 896 days in total, or eight days on average per patient.

Surgical patients were more likely to come to harm, but these incidents were less preventable, the study found.

Diagnostic errors, on the other hand, were less common, but could be more easily prevented. The authors looked at eight specialities:

  1. surgery;
  2. urology;
  3. orthopaedics;
  4. general medicine;
  5. medicine for the elderly;
  6. cancer;
  7. ear nose and throat problems; and
  8. eye disease.

Examples of errors included one patient suffering rupturing and bleeding of the gullet because the wrong size dilation balloon was used during a procedure. Another experienced an avoidable delay in the diagnosis of a malignant condition, while another patient developed deep vein thrombosis and a blood clot in the lungs.

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