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Study: Treatment mistakes for 1 in 7 hospitalized Medicare patients
November 16th, 2010
05:44 PM ET

Study: Treatment mistakes for 1 in 7 hospitalized Medicare patients

One in every seven hospitalized Medicare patients are harmed by treatment mistakes,  according to new analysis by the Department of Health & Human Services released Tuesday.

The report cites a variety of "adverse events" or causes for treatment errors, including excessive bleeding after surgery, urinary tract infections linked to catheters and incorrect medications.  Researchers estimate that these types of adverse events contribute to 15,000 deaths per month or 180,000 deaths each year, according to the report.

Some patient-rights groups are calling these findings alarming.

"The country is in a patient safety crisis," said David Arkush, the director of Public Citizen's Congress Watch Division in a statement. "The only workable solution to preventing unnecessary deaths and injuries is to combine much more patient-protective hospital protocols with much better scrutiny by hospitals of physicians and other health care providers, and to appropriately discipline those whose performance results in preventable patient harm."

The American Hospital Association, which represents 5,000 hospitals in the United States, said it is committed to improvement.

"While hospitals have made great strides in improving care, this report highlights that there is more we can do," Rich Umbdenstock, President and CEO of the American Hospital Association, told CNN in a statement. "Hospitals are already engaged in important projects designed to improve patient care in many of the areas mentioned in the report.  We are committed to taking additional needed steps to improve patient care."

 For patients concerned about harmful mistakes in the hospital, here's a few tips to help you stay safe.

 1. Bring someone with you to the hospital

Having an advocate at your side who can help insure that your concerns won't go unheard during a hospital stay.

2. Know your medications

Get a daily list of all the medications you're taking and their dosages. When the hospital staffer comes to give you your medicine, make sure what he's giving you matches your list.

 3. Be cautious of catheters

These can be the source of infections.  Ask whether you really need one.  Don't let hospital personnel leave it in any longer than necessary.


soundoff (208 Responses)
  1. Dorothy Roy

    HIPPA - Excuse me, the patient cannot run her mouth, she is DEAD because GUH did not care enough to call her emergency point of contact, who had her home phone transferred to her cell phone, and stayed at GUH every night so she could be there in case they found a liver. Think of my DEAD sister when you are eating your Thanksgiving dinner because she died on Thanksgiving Day. You ask "Do you honestly think the doctors, nurses and all the healthcare providers at that hospital honestly wanted her to die?" Let me ask you, Do you honestly think drunk drivers want to kill innocent people - I doubt it, but they are still held accountable! I pray something this horrible never happens to you or your family.

    November 16, 2010 at 22:35 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Joe

      I am sorry about your sister but I don't think it is fair to compare drunk drivers to any profession.One group is impaired and is a danger on the road to themselves and others maybe you think of doctors like that but I don't. I am also a kidney transplant recepient and many many things can go wrong during and after the procedure. I have to take numerous medications to prevent rejection but I am glad for modern medicine because 20 years ago I would be not have been so lucky.

      November 17, 2010 at 08:21 | Report abuse |
    • dir

      Joe: Thank you for your condolences. I wish you continued success with your transplant. What if you would had missed that transplant and died because the hospital totally screwed up? There is no doubt your family would be suffering just the way I am and would feel someone needs to at least say "sorry." No, first they said they did not make the call. Then when they heard the recording they said, well no transplants were done that week. Now that I have an attorney and filed the suit, after 1 1/2 years of waiting, we finally got the Doctor's records. I know for sure my beloved sister would take any medication she needed to, at any cost, just to be alive. I would give everything I own and the rest of my life just to have been able to give her part of my liver. The Doctor said "no" because I was over 60 just by months. I trust you will have a very long and happy life.

      November 17, 2010 at 18:35 | Report abuse |
  2. CNN Fearmongering

    Thanks for another round of overblown, exaggerated, misleading health care reporting, CNN. Your medical journalists don't even understand the stuff they're writing about.

    There is a good point here, though it's not what's in the article. Stay out of hospitals unless you really need to be there. And all you ER physicians out there, stop recommending that people be admitted unnecessarily just so you can dispo them quickly and turn the ER bed around. Hospitalists, stop being the ER doctors' b!tches and let an independent thought cross your mind so you can decide for yourself if someone truly needs admission. Get some common sense. Do I sound bitter? It's because I'm a specialist who has been on call for 5 days this week. I've done 9 inpatient consults so far. 8 of them were unnecessary and completely useless, because the ER physician or hospitalist didn't have the foggiest idea of when my services were actually needed, or when a patient actually needed to be admitted. Of course no one actually picks up the phone and talks to a specialist when it's so much easier to order a consult in the chart. It would save a lot of Medicare dollars if doctors actually talked (and listened) to each other.

    November 16, 2010 at 22:39 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Glamazon Glitterazi

      Or better yet, push for tort reform so the ER providers don't feel compelled to admit someone even against their or their colleagues clinical judgment just because they want to CYA. Maybe push for in-hospital stay necessity reviews, where patients deemed to no longer require hospitalizations either leave or the patients will have to pay out of pocket for every extra half day of unnecessary hospital stay. Less exposure, less adverse events.

      November 16, 2010 at 23:30 | Report abuse |
    • Yougotwhatyouwanted

      Come on Fear. You are definitely in the minority as a specialist. The majority I work with would rather a consult then a chat, because they can't bill for a chat, but they can bill for a consult? Don't blame the ER docs or the Hospitalists for a situation that has been created by the specialists.

      November 16, 2010 at 23:51 | Report abuse |
  3. Dr. G

    Not only will American hospital kill you, they'll take all your money and the doctors will deny any mistakes (from the 18th tee at the golf course).

    November 16, 2010 at 23:16 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Yoreneli

      I have a bumper sticker that reads: HOSPITALS KILL MORE PEOPLE THAN CIGARETTES DO!!

      November 17, 2010 at 19:03 | Report abuse |
  4. Glamazon Glitterazi

    This is what happens when they publish sensationalistic headlines using words like "MISTAKES" rather than adverse events (most of which were NOT preventable, and even the "preventable" ones are dubiously coded, but that is not a topic of conversation for THIS forum). It's even more sensational when they insinuate X number of people die BECAUSE of errors. Now we can REALLY blame some folks. Lets grab and pitchforks and lynch lynch lynch.

    Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints, did anyone actually READ the document produced by DHHS? If not, look it up in NYT or the DHHS website. The document is OEI-06-09-00090 entitled "Adverse Events in Hospitals: National Incidence Among Medicare Beneficiaries" if you can't find it from the NYT. Please, I beg you, stop this ignorance.

    I also enjoy the author's choice of words that borders on deceiving the public, where it is claimed an X number of events contributed to Y number of deaths, but never firmly says X number of events LED TO or CAUSED Y number of deaths. You know why the writers couldn't say that? I think someone already answered this earlier....

    Are preventable adverse events an area needing attention because we want to be better, and we want to minimize unnecessary costs to our already financially strained medical system? Yes

    Would anyone argue we want less adverse events, less medical errors, less complications? Probably not.

    Is the hospital, or any medical treatment be they in-patient or out-patient based, risk-free? No

    Do we need to stop parading poorly excerpted studies and untrue, sensational headlines in front of a medically illiterate population (or just illiterate in general) to minimize PREVENTABLE HYSTERIA? Most definitely YES.

    November 16, 2010 at 23:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Dr. G

    "Who are you peons to criticize me? I am God! Ahhh ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

    November 16, 2010 at 23:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. meh

    I soiled my pants.

    November 16, 2010 at 23:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. JEM

    The Veterinary industry doesn't seem to have this kind of problem. Why don't we make the treatment of humans more like the treatment we give our animals. My birds get far better medical care than I do.

    The treatment of humans is through socialized medicine while the treatment of animals is free market. To fix this mess we need to get the government out of medical care. We need to eliminate the FDA, AMA and DEA as all are working to make our medical system worse rather than better. The solution to this problem is LIBERTY

    November 16, 2010 at 23:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Glamazon Glitterazi

      Because there is no DHHS to codify what adverse events might be in a veterinary hospital, let alone a veterinary intensive care unit. Because there aren't enough cases of gastric banding, or ORIF, or heart failure, or stem cell transplant, or PICC line for long term antibiotics, or chronic/acute anticoagulation, or what have you for your lovely cat or dog to be able to compare the two in any meaningful way.

      I'm glad your pet is getting good health care. At the same time, somewhere out there is a stray dog dying from a worm that could be treated easily if recognized, or a cat dying from FIV. Enjoy your privatized LIBERTY because the insurance industry's bottom is to make money. But if you think making money by minimizing excess care (e.g. care resulting from adverse events) is the ONLY cost-saving measure a private company will do, good luck. I also happen to have a magic cure-all potion to sell you if you truly believe that.

      November 16, 2010 at 23:42 | Report abuse |
  8. Elena

    OK, wrong medications I totally buy. But I'm wondering how excessive bleeding after surgery and urinary catheters leading to UTI are all beling classified as medical errors and the best they could cite for this article. Did someone do something incorrectly to lead to excessive bleeding after surgery, or did the patient just bleed a lot? Because there is often bleeding after surgery. As for catheters, are they occasionally left in for convenience longer than the patient medically needs? Yeah, I'll buy that, but is that a mistake? Not really.mistake is oh I didn't mean to put a catheter in that patient and it contributed to a poor outcome, that's not really what happened. These "mistakes" sound a lot more like treatment complications than human error to me . . .

    November 16, 2010 at 23:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. NursePerspective

    Physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, pharmacists, etc. are highly trained professionals and most of us truly care about the patients. We have the top health care system in the world. However, it is not perfect. Nor are the patients. I cannot "fix" a person that has smoked most of their life, or weighs 500 lbs, or refuses to follow doctor's orders. You are responsible for your body. I cannot go home with you. There must be personal accountability. The majority of the patients I care for have no idea of what their health problems are, what medicines they are taking, or how they should have been managing the illness. Prevention and education are key.

    November 16, 2010 at 23:34 | Report abuse | Reply
    • steve

      I wish they could see what we see and what we do

      November 17, 2010 at 07:56 | Report abuse |
  10. cmac101

    This article says ""The only workable solution to preventing unnecessary deaths and injuries is to combine much more patient-protective hospital protocols with much better scrutiny by hospitals of physicians and other health care providers, and to appropriately discipline those whose performance results in preventable patient harm."

    Baloney.

    "Patient-protective hospital protocols" is just gobbledy-gook: it means nothing. Better scrutiny by hospitals of physicians is also a waste of time – it isn't physicians who are responsible for most adverse events – they aren't around their patients long enough to impact them. And 'appropriate discipline' just creates an atmosphere of fear, instead of actively working to solve the problem.

    The vast majority of adverse events in hospitals – infections, medication errors, and falls – are directly related to staffing, specifically, registered nurses. The ONLY workable solution to the problem of adverse hospital events is to make sure there are enough nurses with enough training to provide safe and effective care. The American Nurses Association has a number of studies that show patient safety is directly related to adequate staffing – too few nurses translates into higher numbers of adverse incidents.

    If we truly want to cut down the number of preventable patient safety incidents, the answer is simple – hire more nurses.

    November 16, 2010 at 23:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Glamazon Glitterazi

      I agree. And hire more HAs and MAs, because those geriatrics fall at the drop of a hat, or drop of a benadryl. And yes, this was listed as one of the categories of "preventable adverse outcomes" in the study. Really, the whole study smacks of "how can we refuse payment to hospitals". Easy: creating a category of diseases they can blame the health care facility for, and refuse payment for those diseases. Because, as you know, PICC lines or central lines have NO RISK OF BLEEDING OR INFECTION. In fact, since there is no risk, lets make it MANDATORY that we don't mention bleeding or infection as possible risks during the consent process. Same goes for any surgery or procedure. Zero risk presumed.

      November 16, 2010 at 23:50 | Report abuse |
  11. See Here

    Just pray you don't ever have to be in the hospital on the weekend. The best doctors are playing golf. The best nurses are home with their families. You get the "C" team (the people that get stuck working weekends). It's amazing. They're not necessarily bad, but they tend to be less experienced and there are fewer of them. Come Monday morning, the "A" team shows back up. I'll wager that hospital mistakes show up disproportionately on the weekend.

    Here's some things you can do. Question what all medicines are when given them. If possible, have a close relative stay with you as much as possible (especially at night and on the weekend). Insist that doctors, nurses and visitors use the anti-bacterial foam hand wash that is normally in all rooms (on the wall) now. When a doctor gives you a diagnosis, ask if there is anything else it could be. Why? Many conditions have similar effects, and doctors tend to believe their initial diagnosis is correct long after it becomes obvious it may be wrong. When you ask them what else it could be, you are allowing them to plant the seed in their own head that they could be wrong. If it turns out to be the wrong diagnosis, it will be corrected quicker and you aren't questioning their decisions....

    And finally, yes there are frivolous lawsuits. There are also there a very large number of non frivolous lawsuits that never get filed. When you are encouraged to support "Tort Reform", you are being encourage to limit your legal remedies, and thereby limit your rights. Don't buy it!!!

    November 16, 2010 at 23:52 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Glamazon Glitterazi

      First paragraph: totally bogus. Less staffed on weekends/holidays than weekdays, yes, for sure. Less capable on weekends? Based on what? Call systems are rotation, draw of the hat. But believe what you will.

      Second paragraph: agree completely

      Third paragraph: Tort reform can be a different discussion on its own. I'm for it, but that's just me. Tomato to-mah-to.

      November 17, 2010 at 00:00 | Report abuse |
  12. giovanni

    Ok, I totally believe in consumer rights but this kind of question is a natural instigator. what if you were asked: would you be satisfied if 85% of decisions you made in your life were spot on? Would you consider yourself successful if you bringing up your own kids you only mistook 15% of the time?l if your answer is yes, it implies that 15% of the time you were wrong and that your are fine with i; that would be 1 out of 7, just like the title of this article.
    Let's start having more respect for each other's commitment, more trust in good people and good intentions; our doctors will become more human and our insurance companies will not lough as much...........

    November 16, 2010 at 23:54 | Report abuse | Reply
    • brucemo

      Heck, why 85%? Why not be satisfied if your doctor only gets it right 40% of the time? A baseball player who gets a hit that often will make the Hall of Fame.

      November 17, 2010 at 01:40 | Report abuse |
  13. MedStudent

    Just want to point out something here, if any of you actually read the article before commenting:

    "The report cites a variety of "adverse events" or causes for treatment errors, including excessive bleeding after surgery, urinary tract infections linked to catheters and incorrect medications."

    Whoever did this research knew what they were looking for. They chose to include UTIs from catheters in MEDICARE patients.

    Medicare is for elderly people, who have weaker immune systems, no matter where they got a catheter they would be at risk for a UTI.

    Excessive bleeding – many elderly people are on medications like coumadin, younger people are not, this increases their risk of bleeding after surgery tremendously.

    Incorrect medications – well what do they mean by incorrect?
    – a drug interaction? well elderly people often come into the emergency room with no medication list, the physicians have to improvise and it turns out later they're on 50 interacting medications

    All 3 of these things they named first could be explained just by the fact that the population is elderly, did they compare medicare to private insured elderly? Then did they factor in socioeconomic status which is also a health predictor? (lower SES levels more likely to accept medicare).

    There are a lot of variables here I didn't hear about being factored out, and if they were factored out, what type of regression analysis was used etc....

    this study sounds like a fishing expedition at a local wading pool that's fully stocked. They went for a high risk population and chose variables that were highly influenced by the cohort and then exploited it to get the result they want.

    November 17, 2010 at 00:13 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Glamazon Glitterazi

      I'm glad you at least tried to read it. The end point of this is, if you haven't caught on, finding conditions to deny reimbursement. Some states are already doing that to their hospitals. You might want to find out if this is happening at the hospital where you are training. After your med school, and after your residency (and possibly fellowship depending on your career aspirations), you may find that you will be surrounded by reimbursement schematics based on these "outcomes" studies. Or stay in academics and do bench/clinical research, but if you have any clinical responsibilities at all, you will not be able to avoid this train wreck. (And why is this important? Because private insurance benchmark a lot of their reimbursements to Medicare...if medicare won't pay for it, why should we?...now you get the picture.)

      November 17, 2010 at 00:19 | Report abuse |
    • Glamazon Glitterazi

      re: point about patient population between MEDICARE vs. private, not sure if there is data to back up your claim. While younger people are definitely included in the private insurance group, the group of individuals in the private insurance group who has the same level of "exposure to adverse events" may end up being similar to the MEDICARE group. The fact is, the average inpatient who is your 50-80 y/o ex smoker with DM, HTN, CAD and maybe COPD who gets admitted for sugar out of control, or chest pain, or stroke, or shortness of breath, or cellulitis, or whatever. Those groups with the most "exposure to adverse events" may not end up being horribly different between the Medicare group and the private insurance group. Just another conjecture, will need data to back up obviously.

      November 17, 2010 at 00:29 | Report abuse |
    • Old Timer

      Good post...especially about doing patient histories. Patients don't remember what medications and supplements they are taking.A good practice for patients is to keep all your meds, dosages ,and allergies on an index card.It is cheap and easy to do...Sometimes the lack of proper patient histories can delay and alter treatment...which can be critical in an er or an emergency situation...
      Paramedics sometimes grab all the rx and supplement bottles in a house if they feel it could save a life..

      Obamacare talked about electronic charts with use of USB flash drives...This way people's charts and medical histories can be quickly and accurately ascertained.When you go from one medical facility to another there would be a better connection using more technology and less chance of human error.The truth is scan technology on hospital bracelets has greatly reduced human errors. Of course there are problems and resistance against this.

      I also wish you well because medicine has changed so much since I graduated and retired 2 years ago. My best advice is always put your patients first and of course .....First do no harm...GOOD LUCK!

      November 17, 2010 at 08:59 | Report abuse |
  14. Healthfirst

    This is why I went here...www.qualitycaremexico.com they are no where near the U.S. Mexico border and you are as safe there as anywhere else in the world if not "safer" It's Quality Affordable health Care in a Modern City with all of the perks...
    Guadalajara is the capital of Medicine in Latin America.

    November 17, 2010 at 00:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Calvin Hobbes

    I see new nurses coming into the medical career who don't seem to have a work ethos. Thank god I'm retiring.

    November 17, 2010 at 00:40 | Report abuse | Reply
    • HoosierRN

      I don't know if I am glad to see this comment or not. I am experiencing the same issue at my hospital. We have some nurses who come out of nursing school and think that they are God's gift to nursing. They refuse to listen to the more experienced, seasoned nurses and try to get by doing as little as possible. The spend their time texting, making personal phone calls, or playing on the internet. Unfortunately, I am a long time from retiring yet.

      November 17, 2010 at 00:45 | Report abuse |
  16. HoosierRN

    As an RN of 15+ years in an acute care hospital, I can tell you why there are mistakes made and people are dying needlessly. Too few nurses and CNAs to care for the increasing medically complex patients that are coming in to the facilities. Administrators don't care whether there are enough nurses and CNAs to care for patients. In my small six bed unit, I have routinely been left alone with 1 or 2 patients. My unit is isolated and if I yelled for help out the hall, nobody would hear me. I have several times voiced my concerns to upper management to my manager and administration but my concerns fall on deaf ears. If a patient suffers a cardiac arrest while I am alone back there with them, it could be 4 or 5 minutes before I get adequate help. It is hard for one person to do CPR, give life saving drugs, and manage the airway.

    The CNAs on the medical surgical floor routinely have 8 or more patients to care for on a 7-3 shift. That might not seem like a lot of patients, but remember a lot of these patients are not able to ambulate to the bathroom by themselves (that's if they can ambulate to the bathroom at all). They also need bathed, turned, fed, turned again, fed again. Then there are the ones that need to ambulated in the halls. Then of course there are the families who needed attention. If a patient is dying, that requires even more care for the patient and emotional support for the family and/or patient if they are still conscious. While this is all going on, you have to listen for patient's call lights, listen for alarms for patients who try to get up by themselves but aren't steady enough on their feet to that.

    While the CNAs are trying to manage all this, the RNs are trying to pass medications (and seriously some patients today have 20 medications, check the morning lab results, tracking down the doctors for orders, dealing with families, keeping track of what the patient takes in and puts out, monitoring and maintaining their IVs, and the list could go on forever.

    The next time you or a loved one is in the hospital, call the nurse manager of that particular unit and ask him or her what the nurse to patient ratio is for that unit. Ask how many CNAs are available to assist with the ADLs (activities of daily living...bathing, walking, eating, dressing, etc). The answer may shock you.

    Believe it or not, most healthcare professionals want to provide the very best care possible to their patients. Unfortunately when that RN has 6 or more patients to care for in one shift, providing the best care is not reality. Talk to hospital and nursing home nurses that you know and find out what really is going on in our nation's hospitals and long term care centers.

    November 17, 2010 at 00:42 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Glamazon Glitterazi

      I also enjoy that the patients are never supposed to fall on your watch because you are omnipresent with super human strength (when needed for those who are 3-4 times your weight). It's really too bad most of the ones who appreciate your hard work are other healthcare providers, and some gracious patients.

      November 17, 2010 at 00:46 | Report abuse |
    • PharmD

      You make some good points.In pharmacy we are seeing outside management companies come in and actually manage the pharmacy with little health or medical knowledge.These outside companies are MBA types and are all about the bottom line.I do not want to go into pharmacy management because I enjoy practicing plus I have seen pharmacists come back from management and really struggle because medicine changes quickly.In pharmacy management there are too many headaches not related to medicine....

      November 17, 2010 at 09:25 | Report abuse |
  17. Brian

    "As a hospital pharmacist who prides himself at helping to decrease medical errors. I would like more patients to ask the medical residents and attendings more questions. ".......

    When you do that the doctor responds with a combination of happy talk and double talk – and then he abruptly changes the subject. Doctors are not shy about billing though! A number of doctors are in jail right now for insurance fraud.

    November 17, 2010 at 01:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Eric of Reseda

    I was just in the hospital for a one-day arthroscopic procedure on my knee. Was walking fine that night, and ten later, back to hiking, working out, etc. On the 11th day, STAPH INFECTION!!! All because SOMEBODY in the O.R. didn't follow protocol. SO< had to go to hospital for a two-week stay, TWO surgeries to fight the infection, INCREDIBLE PAIN....until the opiates Dilaudid and Percodan kicked in, THREE WEEKS of intravenous hook-ups at home (daily, one-hour, anti-biotic infusions) after I got out of the hospital. Couldn't work for over two months. NIGHTMARE. And GUESS WHAT?!? I have been billed around $150,000+ for the pleasure! And, to boot, because I was straining just to pee, from all the opiates, I developed an inguinal hernia that required surgery to repair. So, FOUR surgeries in 4 months. Worse after I got of the hospital, BY FAR, than when I went in. Can barely walk. Or I can walk, but it just hurts like the dickens.

    People, we gotta stop walking around and becoming obedient and fat little consumers. Get healthy. Stay out of these profit driven hospitals that operate more like a standard business than an organization dedicated to care. We don't NEED half the stuff we're being sold by Healthcare, Inc. They are simply committed to creating new products and services and sellign them to us. They'd be screwed if we all put in 40 minutes a day and worked up a sweat, and cut out all the crap the food industry is selling us!

    November 17, 2010 at 01:50 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ken

      Horrible experience.
      Staph infections are cultured to determine the source. If it was a hospital acquired infection the hospital is required to pay the bill. If it is a community acquired infection then you and your insurance pay the bill.
      And unfortunately most things are worse in California.

      November 17, 2010 at 02:08 | Report abuse |
  19. Ken

    Registered nurses must be better educated.
    Currently 60% of RNs only have a 2-year degree.
    The patient to RN ratio must be reduced.

    November 17, 2010 at 02:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Ken

    A study in the entire state of Pennsylvania showed that RNs with a 4-year college nursing degree have a 10% lower patient death rate compared to diploma nurses or RNs with a 2-year degree.
    Study by Linda H. Aiken, PhD, RN.

    November 17, 2010 at 02:14 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Tony

      The whole state Ken. No, just in Her hospital.

      November 17, 2010 at 02:59 | Report abuse |
  21. laura

    as a doctor, can we please somehow change the system so i can get a 40hr workweek so most of us are not in a sleeping stupor when we see patients? maybe get the country to hire more doctors, train more students, oh i dunno. i'd take a way lower pay for a much shorter workday cause seriously, nothing's working right now. healthcare sucks cause patients suck, doctors suck, lawyers suck, insurance companies triple sucks, politics are clueless. i'm moving to germany to practice medicine...

    November 17, 2010 at 02:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Tony

    Ken – not true – its the workload not the amount of nursing school. Experience rules all in mananaging health issues.

    Eric – s#8+ happens, do you how small staph is, we do what we can staph is everywhere.

    David Arkush – Nature has nothing to do with this? People get sick and die. Medicine is a science, an educated guess. Medicines are safe for most people but then so are peanuts. UTi's – you try sticking a tube into someones bladder through a small dry orifice when someone is already sick and compromised. Bleeding – have you ever seen what a persons anatomy looks like, not one person's vessel's are the same in size, shape, or fortitude. Most people cannot set their dvd clocks with detailed instructions in front of them and you want us to wave a magic wand and heal everyone perfectly.

    Get a clue all, medicine is a guessing game played by many skilled and caring people. We wish we all had out of body scanners that would tell us just what was wrong and how it could be fixed.

    Lastly why is it that the government can mandate us to carry auto insurance and that is ok, but as soon as they want us to all carry health ins. you say boo. Most people pay 2grand to insure their Dodge Neon's but balk to pay the same to protect their bodies.
    Health is not lego's folks.

    November 17, 2010 at 02:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. chris

    No accountability causes bad behaviour to continue to be bad. it is just human nature. About 96% of the 180,000 deaths just go into the "so what" dust bin of history. The New England Journal of Medicine reported several years ago 98,000 people a year were dying needlessly in hospitals. It appears the problem is getting worse. Here in California the most you can sue a hospital for is $250,000 for pain and suffering damages. That cap has been in place since 1975 and has never never indexed for inflation. The insurance carriers deny every claim, forcing lawsuits to be filed and never pay the $250,000 even on the clearest cases since they have an 80% chance of winning at trial and most people don't have the $100,000 in court costs to fight a well funded Insurance Industry. Almost all plaintiffs will take something less than the $250,000 to avoid that emotionally draining fight so the dirty little secret ist that The $250,000 cap is actually a cap that forces legitimate claims to be resolved for much less than $250,000. According to a recent Harvard study, 96% of medical mistakes, like the 180,000 deaths described in the article, go uncompensated. There are no consequences for bad behavior in the medical field and so the deaths will continue. The "litigation explosion" is myth perpetrated by who else but the Insurance Industry which allows people to be killed and maimed as a result of leglslation being passed which takes away the rights of true victims and prevents bad conduct from being corrected.

    November 17, 2010 at 04:03 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Lioness

      "Almost all plaintiffs will take something less than the $250,000 to avoid that emotionally draining fight ." It is called a settlement, and they exist for a reason. Can you imagine the rates doctors would have to pay in malpractice insurance if there were no settlements and everyone who decided to sue received millions? Then image how many more people would decide to sue because, hey, an easy million!

      I agree that insurance companies should offer a fair settlement when the case is clear-cut, but a fair settlement is probably much MUCH less than attorneys like to ask for.

      November 17, 2010 at 08:39 | Report abuse |
  24. snf

    The stats really dont shock me at all. I remember reading about patients dieing on the floor of an ER. or just recently a womans child got stuck with used needles cause the case they were in was broken and they fell to the floor and now await tests for aids and other diseases. Hell, i helped in firing over half of the staff at my wifes hospital where she was giving birth to my son cause of there lack of care. and treatment, but praised one soul person and they got a promotion out of what i said. the story is way too long to explain, but the Main doctor agreed. we had no choice but to use the hospital though due to insurance. most of the time, im usually giving the diagnosis, and treatment myself to the nurses and doctors at hospitals. and they usually are shocked at the knowledge i have. even my dentist was suprised at my own dental care i provided myself since i didnt have insurance at the time before i saw him. and he said my work was remarkable. My only tiff i have is the pricing verses the care. and they dont, by a long-shot, even out. I had a good friend go in for a simple tonsil removal due to tonsillitis. and through the procedures, they almost killed her 3 times. and left her with scarring in her throat that never should of happened. they almost killed her by letting her drown in her own blood, then almost killed her by mixing her air supply with saline solution, and some other situation happened which i dont remember. but it netted her a 5 million dollar lawsuit. but, most doctors and nurses really dont care. or are too arrorgent. our last doctor thankfully wasnt and will agree that most dont really care. he would tend to my wife, and afterwords ask me how i was doing and give me a check up and treat me for any ills and give me a prescription if needed. but yes our healtcare is in need of a major overhaul, and so is our insurance companies, and big pharma.

    November 17, 2010 at 04:08 | Report abuse | Reply
    • HoosierRN

      Boy, aren't you the high and mighty one? If you are so smart, why don't you go to medical school and help fix the very system you are ripping apart? You might have a totally different perspective if you were on the other side of the issue.

      November 17, 2010 at 10:50 | Report abuse |
  25. Ron

    I recently saw my doctor walking around the halls of our local professional building. He looked like a crazed ghoul. OUr doctors overbook themselves and are victims of their own greed. I am beginning to lose my trust in many of our doctors who in many cases are totally burned out.

    November 17, 2010 at 04:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. huxley

    Been there. I was getting a routine vaccination in one of the top hospitals in the U.S., the nurse very nearly gave me a tuberculosis treatment rather than the vaccination. Fortunately, with the needle in hand and ready to administer the tuberculosis drug, the nurse asked "How long ago were you diagnosed with tuberculosis?" My jaw dropped. I explained I was just there for vaccinations. She double checked her chart, replied something like "Oops", and picked up a syringe from a different box.

    November 17, 2010 at 05:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. charles s

    We should hire the French to run our medical system. In the US we pay over 16% of GDP on medical care and the French spend about 10%. People live longer in France than in the US. France is ranked number 1 in "overall health system performance". Here is a report written that discusses medical care in various countries.
    http://www.amsa.org/AMSA/Libraries/Committee_Docs/IHSprimer.sflb.ashx

    The US has the most expensive medical care system in the world. This would be fine if everyone had access to it and it produced superior results. Unfortunately it does not produce superior results and about 60 million have no medical care. The idea that you can go to an emergency room without insurance is true but is an utter waste of a very expensive resource. ER doctors are constantly complaining about who shows up at the ER. I once spent about 6 hours in an ER with a woman who had a sick child. The child had a urinary infection that a family doctor would have probably treated with antibiotics. She did not have a regular family doctor because she had no insurance. She ended up in a ER instead.

    After reading about all the complaints from patients, doctors, nurses, etc., it is easy to see why everyone is angry.

    November 17, 2010 at 05:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Craig

    There is absolutely no excuse for this what if nearly 4000 soldiers per week were dying in Afghanistan? The public would be up in arms! So not only do hospitals and doctors charge to much for medical care but they are also killing around 4000 patients per week through negligence! I say start holding more of these doctors, nurses and hospital criminally responsible for their actions and I bet that outrageous number drops sharply during the first year. I see many persons on here are defending the hospitals well all I have to say is I hope they keep that ignorant attitude when something terrible happens to them or someone they know through medical malpractice.

    November 17, 2010 at 06:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. icanread

    One thing that Hospital Administratiors' fail to mention is that they purposefully keep the nurse to patient ratios at minimal levels. Nurses, are being forced to work 12 hour shifts, without meal breaks (yeah, it's against the law, but they're too busy to eat!), too many patients to care for, and to harried of the actual work duties. It's impossible to provide safe care. The public will continue to suffer, but all that matters to big corporations is saving or making money. The country is truly in a crisis.

    November 17, 2010 at 06:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Alicia

    I'm so glad I live in Canada now. 🙂

    November 17, 2010 at 07:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. steve

    What are they NOT telling you? Most of these people dying of these horrible catheters have been dead for YEARS! They're 92 years old and if they didn't have catheters, they'd be peeing on themselves and then dying of skin rot. They have no idea who or where they are. We act like these are alarming numbers. If they were 52 and in for a gall bladder and it went bad, then absolutely that's unacceptable. But the numbers they're using include all the absolutely ancient people that are going to die of SOMETHING anyway. People are born to die. Why do we fight that so much. Guess what? These "alarming" numbers are going to increase. Not because care is getting poor, but people are getting older and being saved over and over and over by FANTASTIC care. "Bring someone with you, so your wishes aren't unheard" Genius, then when it goes poorly because you're dumb unmedical butt brought in your webMD print offs and a friend, you can sue the MD and hospital. People, there are standards of care that have to be followed They're pretty lofty. Don't believe the propaganda. This country still has fantastic healthcare.

    November 17, 2010 at 07:24 | Report abuse | Reply
    • SORRY FOR YELLING BUT I AM MAD!!!!

      REALLY??? 92 YEARS OLD AND DEAD ANYWAYS???? MY MOTHER WAS A YOUNG, VIBRANT, AND FULL OF LIFE. SHE WAS NOT READY TO DIE, BUT~~~A DOCTOR'S MISTAKE~~~ TOOK HER LIFE. SHE ENDED UP BRAIN DEAD AND ON LIFE SUPPORT BECAUSE THE HOSPITAL GAVE HER TOO MUCH OF A CERTAIN MEDICATION. I COULD WRITE A BOOK ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED TO MY MOTHER, IT WAS SO HEINOUS. AND GUESS WHAT ELSE....WE HAD NO GROUNDS TO SUE THE HOSPITAL BECAUSE MY MOTHER WAS A HOMEMAKER AND DIDNT WORK OUTSIDE THE HOME AND THEREFORE HAD NO VALUE. I WILL NEVER EVER EVER TRUST ANOTHER DOCTOR OR HOSPITAL AGAIN AND NEITHER WILL ANYONE IN MY FAMILY. AND BELIEVE ME, I AM TOTALLY PRO SUING THE DOCTORS AND HOSPITALS. THEY TREAT THEIR PATIENTS LIKE CATTLE – EXPENDABLE.

      November 17, 2010 at 08:52 | Report abuse |
  32. Sandy

    There's nothing wrong with our health care system!!!!!!! YEAH RIGHT!!!!

    November 17, 2010 at 07:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Maddy

    Well...the secret is out! If you think bleeding and catheters are at the top of list, think again. These might be the cases that are reported, but outright negligence and incompetence most often remain a deep, dark secret. And I am not talking only MD's here but licensed nursing personnel, some with advanced degrees who cannot assess their way out of a paper bag for any number of reasons, not the least of which are "sloth and torpor".
    From my experience there are great hospitals with a very high standard of care who hold their staff accountable... and there are those who don't! Therein lies the rub. In the last years of my career, I worked in an"anything goes" major medical center. There was an unwritten rule that you don't talk about it. The people in charge did NOT want to hear it. It's a no win situation for the patients and the staff who have to day after day work alongside professional "incompetents". Trust me...they are out their folks and they can talk a really good game. That being said, there are also some great people at the bedside, who love what they do, and give it their all.
    It's often the luck of the draw and keep in mind that looks are deceiving.
    Anyone can make a mistake, even the most hard working and conscientious. Those are not the people I am referring to in this post, but rather the ones who ARE THE MISTAKE AND ARE ALLOWED AND EVEN ENCOURAGED TO THRIVE IN THE ENVIRONMENT.
    In many ways it reminds me of our educational system with all it's problems. The rift raft thrives and you can't seem to get rid of them. They infect the environment and everyone pays, some with their lives. We could call them the SUPERBUGS!

    November 17, 2010 at 08:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. bigbrowniiiiiis

    Patients need to become more accountable and responsible for their health. Patients come into the hospital at a young age (in their 40's) for a "routine cardiac catheterization". I once had a patient who at the age of 43 made sure that he did everything possible to put himself into such poor medical condition. Heavy smoker, on cholesterol medication for years, daily exercise was walking back and forth in the parking lot from his car to his desk job. A "routine stress test" indicated a blockage, so off to the cath lab he went. After his procedure and a few stents, he vowed to change. That lasted until we tried to get him out of bed. He was in too much pain, didn't want to walk, didn't want to use his incentive spirometer to take deep breaths, just wanted his pain medications and to sleep. His 48 hour post procedure stay lasted more than 2 weeks due to this patient and his family's lack of cooperation and participation in his own healthcare. He was only discharged for a week, before he came back in with a nasty pneumonia. He had obviously been smoking due to his carboxyhgb levels, but he denied. His family admitted that he sat in a chair and watched TV the entire time he was at home, and they didn't want to upset him by making him become more active. Once he was back in cardiac step down unit he refused to get out of bed again, even sit up more than the "suggested" 30 degrees, and demanded nicotine patches and pain medications as if it were going out of style.
    The insurance company refused to reimburse the hospital for the 2nd admission, stating that the pneumonia was a complication from his previous admission. The patient did nothing to participate in his healing, the staff did what they could.

    November 17, 2010 at 09:01 | Report abuse | Reply
    • HowDareU

      I love to pound cheesburgers ,smoke 2 packs of cigarettes a day , play video games, and drink til I pass out...

      Then I went to a doctor and she prescribed a medication for me....I took the medication and now I am having trouble breathing..I can't play world of warcraft anymore.. I am now suing for millions ...Healthcare system is BROKEN!

      November 17, 2010 at 09:35 | Report abuse |
    • Wandering Bear

      Wandering Bear can heal you.....Everyone who is dissatisfied with the current healthcare system..BOYCOTT...Don't GO..RIP UP YOUR INSURANCE CARDS...DON'T PAY THE PREMIUMS................................Never see a doctor again......
      Try Native American Holistic Healing...It is all natural.....There should be a Native American holistic healer near you...CALL TODAY!

      November 17, 2010 at 09:41 | Report abuse |
  35. The_Mick

    A more detailed article about this finding was on either ABCNews or USAToday this week. But in both cases, the study doesn't say how much of the death rate is due to carelessness and how much is due to the fact that medicine has built in errors. For example, if one patient dies because of an allergy to a medication, there was no way to know that beforehand, assuming it's the first time the patient got it. Addtionally, what was the life expectancy of the patients? If something done medically to ease the pain of a person with a week left and that inadvertantly caused the patient to die a few days ahead of time, I'm sure that death is including in the 1 in 7 number here.

    November 17, 2010 at 09:38 | Report abuse | Reply
    • ANon

      Unfortunately doctors many times do not even review a patient's allergies, even when they have a bright red wristband noting that they have allergies. My husband was given the same drug (that he is allergic to and this is in his medical record) twice in one day at a hospital.

      November 17, 2010 at 12:04 | Report abuse |
  36. Softship

    Would you please describe what "best" means in this context?

    November 17, 2010 at 11:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. ANon

    Wow, I love how all of these articles make the patient the one who is supposed to tell the doctors and nurses what to do. You know what though? Doctors and nurses HATE to be told what to do by a patient and will not listen to a patient who is deemed to be a problem for questioning the actions of doctors/nurses. My husband had a catheter once after surgery and he could feel that there was something wrong with the position of the catheter and had to request a dozen times that the catheter be removed before the nurse, after arguing for 15 minutes, finally took it out. Of course, my husband was correct and the catheter was not properly evacuating his bladder as was shown by his urination immediately after the catheter was removed (it is supposed to be "impossible" to urinate immediately after having the catheter removed). Doctors would do a much better job of treating patients if they took the time to listen.

    November 17, 2010 at 11:57 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Yor

      The majority of doctors/physicians are just plain old a..holes - and just like every other profession, not all were at the top of their class.

      November 19, 2010 at 15:18 | Report abuse |
  38. Bio-Intervention

    It's true about antibiotics not always killing the super bugs. Why? It's like bringing a knife to a gun fight. The organisms have become resistant and mutate. Time and money are the enemies in keeping up with new antibiotic production. It's vitally important to kill these organisms before they can infect a patient. Today, there’s a new environmentally friendly, practically non-toxic, EPA registered disinfectant service for hospitals and other medical facilities that has a unique kill mechanism that results in a 6-log kill (99.9999%). Learn more at http://www.bio-intervention.com.

    November 17, 2010 at 13:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Yoreneli

    I had a close relative die at George Washington University Hospital on the Friday after Thanksgiving (Black Friday). They had no one to sign her death certificate until Monday, because of the Holiday weekend, so her beloved body was held and she literally missed her own funeral on Monday. Needless to say, the funeral had to be postponed.

    November 19, 2010 at 15:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. John

    Okay, where is a citation to the original study. This is poor reporting on CNN's part if there is no link to the source material. I expect more of CNN and Sanjay Gupta.

    November 29, 2010 at 17:26 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.