Approximately one in five Medicare patients with safety incidents die

Although mortality due to medical malpractice is relatively rare, patient safety incidents play a role in the mortality of Medicare beneficiaries. Patient safety indicates used in the Healthgrades study include: accidental puncture or laceration, complications of anesthesia, decubitus ulcers, failure to rescue, foreign body left in during procedure, latrogenic pneumothorax, selected infections due to medical care, various post-operative care incidents, and transfusion reactions. Although the rate has declined in the recent years, the 16 patient safety incidents studied by Healthgrades may have contributed to 247,662 deaths from 2003 through 2005. This is approximately a 21.35% mortality rate in Medicare patients potentially attributable to the development of one or more patient safety incidents.

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