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.

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