Medical errors and other adverse events occur "frequently" during hospitalization for stroke, a new study suggests. Researchers analyzed data on 1,440 patients with stroke admitted to a Rochester, N.Y., medical center between July 2001 and December 2004. Twelve percent (173) of patients experienced a total of 183 adverse events, which researchers defined as a harmful adverse clinical event.
Of the 183 adverse events, 86 were considered preventable and 37 weren't. (The preventability of 60 events was unclear.) Of the preventable adverse events, 37% were transcription/ documentation errors, 23% were failure to perform a clinical task, 10% were communication/handoff errors, and 10% were failed independent checks or calculations.
According to lead researcher Robert G. Holloway, MD, MPH, if study findings are applied broadly to the nearly 1 million people with stroke admitted to U.S. hospitals annually, 50,000 to 100,000 patients could experience an adverse event related to an error. The study concludes by recommending "a disease-specific approach" to analyzing adverse events to help improve the quality of care.