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New Estimates of Patient Harms Associated with Hospital Care

In its landmark 2000 report To Err is Human, the Institute of Medicine estimated as many as 98,000 American die annually from medical errors. A new research article updates the IOM number, estimating over 400,000 deaths each year from preventable harm to patients. The harm to patients may be due to errors of  commission, omission, communication, context, or diagnosis.

The author of the study also indicates serious harm may be 10-20 fold more frequent than mortality. The numbers are based on 4 limited studies, primarily based on the Global Trigger Tool, published since the IOM report was released.

While the author acknowledges these prevalence numbers may be debated, there’s no dispute that patient safety must remain a focus for serious improvement efforts.

Source: James JT. A new, evidence-based estimate of patient harms associated with hospital care. Journal of Patient Safety, vo. 9, no. 3, Sept. 2013. http://journals.lww.com/journalpatientsafety/Fulltext/2013/09000/A_New,_Evidence_based_Estimate_of_Patient_Harms.2.aspx

Posted by AHA Resource Center, (312) 422-2050, rc@aha.org

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