A recent study by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), published in the July 28 issue of the journal Health Services Research, found that 1 out of every 10 patients who died within 90 days of surgery did so because of a preventable error. The study also revealed that one-third of the deaths occurred after the initial hospital discharge.
The study reviewed a nationwide sample of more than 161,000 patients ages 18 to 64 in employer-based health plans who underwent surgery between 2001 and 2002. Researchers used AHRQ’s Patient Safety Indicators to recognize the medical errors.
According to the AHRQ study, preventable medical mistakes that occur during or after surgery may cost employers almost $1.5 billion a year. AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D. stated that “like the physical and emotional harm caused by medical errors, the financial consequences don’t stop at the hospital door. Eliminating medical errors and their after affects must continue to be top priority for our health care system.”