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HealthGrades Finds Rates of Patient Safety Events Vary

Patients have 46 percent lower risk of safety error in top versus bottom-ranking hospitals

WEDNESDAY, March 9 (HealthDay News) -- Patients treated at hospitals rated with a HealthGrades Patient Safety Excellence Award have, on average, a 46 percent lower risk of experiencing a patient safety incident compared to those treated at the lowest-ranked hospitals, according to the eighth annual HealthGrades Patient Safety in American Hospitals Study published online March 9.

Kristin Reed, M.P.H., and Rick May, M.D., from Health Grades Inc. in Denver, examined approximately 40 million Medicare patient records from 2007 and 2009. The national patient safety event rate, mortality, and cost associated with 13 patient safety indicators identified by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality were evaluated. An overall patient safety composite score was derived for each hospital to identify the best-performing hospitals in the United States.

The investigators identified a total of 708,642 patient safety events that occurred in acute hospitalizations from 2007 through 2009, resulting in 79,670 patient deaths. The safety factors with the highest incidence rates were serious, preventable complications in surgical inpatients, pressure ulcers, postoperative respiratory failure, and postoperative sepsis, which account for 69 percent of all patient safety events. Medicare patients treated at a hospital with a HealthGrades Patient Safety Excellence Award were 46 percent less likely to experience any patient safety event, 52 percent less likely to contract a hospital acquired bloodstream infection or to suffer from post-surgical sepsis, and 43 percent less likely to suffer from postoperative respiratory failure, compared to the lowest-ranked hospitals.

"Even without year-over-year comparisons, what is unquestionably clear is that patient safety events continue to be pervasive in American hospitals," the authors write.

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