Expert Testimony about # of Deaths, Medical Errors & Patient Safety in U.S..- Excerpt: Harvard Professor-Ashish K. Jha, MD, MPH

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On July 17th, 2014 the Senate Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging held an important hearing on “Over 1000 Deaths Per Day is Too Many:  The Need to Improve Patient Safety“. Six experts testified and shared pdf. files of their reports including citations.

To download all of the experts’ complete testimonies  or listen to the hearing go here.

To get links to all expert excerpts published in Confident Voices in Healthcare Blog go here.

ashishjhaFrom the testimony of: Ashish K. Jha, MD, MPH
Professor of Health Policy and Management
Harvard School of Public Health
Department of Health Policy and Management

Four years ago, the New England Journal of Medicine published a terrific study from North Carolina hospitals that found that between 2002 and 2007, there had been little orno progress in reducing harm from unsafe medical care. 2 A recent study led by Dr. John James found that between 200,000 and 400,000 Americans die each year from unsafe medical care, which makes it the third leading killer in the U.S., behind only heart disease and cancer.3 Finally, in an eye-opening November 2011 report on adverse events in hospitals, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) in the Department of Health and Human Services found that 13.5 percent of Medicare patients suffered an injury in the hospital that prolonged their stay or caused permanent harm or death. An additional 13.5 percent of Medicare patients suffered temporary harm such as an allergic reaction or hypoglycemia. Together, the data suggest that more than one in four hospitalized Medicare beneficiaries suffers some sort of injury during their inpatient stay, much

higher than previous rates. The OIG report also found that unsafe care contributes to 180,000 deaths of Medicare beneficiaries each year, and that Medicare pays at least $4.4 billion to treat these injuries.4

Despite all the focus on patient safety, it seems we have not made much progress at all.

3 James JT. A new, evidence-based estimate of patient harms associated with hospital care. J Patient Saf. 2013;9(3):122-8.

4 Adverse Events in Hospitals: National Incidence Among Medicare Beneficiaries.
Department of Health and Human Services: Office of Inspector General. November

 To read my open letter to the Senate Subcommittee  in response to the hearing go here.


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