Belsky Weinberg & Horowitz, LLC A Personal Injury & Workers’ Compensation Law Firm

Consumer Reports' Rating of Hospital Safety Highlights Serious Problems

Consumers Reports (CR), the monthly product rating magazine, released the results of itssurvey on hospital safety in the August 2012 issue. CR's findings are disturbing:

1. Infections, surgical mistakes, and other medical harm contribute to the deaths of180,000 hospital patients a year, according to projections based on a 2010 reportfrom the Department of Health and Human Services. Another 1.4 million areseriously hurt by their hospital care. And, as CR noted, those figures apply onlyto Medicare patients. What happens to other people is less clear because mosthospital errors go unreported and hospitals report only a fraction of things that cango wrong, the venerable consumer rating magazine observed.

2. About one in 20 hospitalized patients will develop an infection - a preventableoccurrence -- according to CR. Dirty instruments, improperly sterilized cathetersor needles and the contaminated hands of doctors, nurses, or other health-careworkers are common causes of infection. In one study, 60 percent of hospitals thatused an infection-prevention checklist developed by a Maryland doctor eliminatedall central--line infections in their intensive-care units for at least a year.

3. Returning to the hospital soon after going home can be a sign that somethingwent wrong. Research suggests that up to three-quarters of readmissions may bepreventable, CR noted.

Data was taken from government and independent sources to rate 1,159 hospitalsin 44 states, about 18% of hospitals nationwide. Consumer Reports rated hospitalson infections, readmissions, communication with patients, overuse of imaging tests,complications and mortality. CR said it also interviewed patients, physicians, hospitaladministrators, and safety experts; reviewed medical literature and looked at hospitalinspections and investigations.

Many hospitals, including Johns Hopkins Hospital - which scored less than half the rateof infections of the national benchmark - could not be rated because many Marylandhospitals don't participate in the standard Medicare payment system that's also used tocollect data for some of the measures in the ratings, according to CR.

Statements from the participants in CR's survey echo that the nation's hospitals haveserious problems with safety.

"There is an epidemic of health-care harm," says Rosemary Gibson, a patient-safetyadvocate and author. More than 2.25 million Americans will probably die from medicalharm in this decade, she told CR. "That's like wiping out the entire populations of NorthDakota, Rhode Island, and Vermont. It's a man-made disaster."

"Medical harm is probably one of the three leading causes of death," Peter Pronovost,M.D, senior vice president for patient safety and quality at Johns Hopkins Medicine inBaltimore, told CR.

Belsky, Weinberg & Horowitz has been fighting for clients who have been the victims ofnegligence for many years. Call us at 410-234-0100 or email us for a free consultationand let us help you.

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