Patient Harm Found Common, Unchanged in Hospitals

Rate during six-year period in North Carolina didn't drop substantially

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 24 (HealthDay News) -- Harm to patients in several North Carolina hospitals was common in a recent six-year period, and it did not appear to decrease substantially during this time, according to research published in the Nov. 25 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Christopher P. Landrigan, M.D., of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, and colleagues analyzed data from 10 North Carolina hospitals. They reviewed suspected harms involving 100 admissions per quarter in 2002 through 2007.

Internal reviewers in the hospitals noted 588 harms in 2,341 admissions (25.1 harms per 100 admissions). Of these, 63.1 percent were rated as preventable. Neither the overall rate of harms per 1,000 patient-days nor the rate of preventable harms as assessed by internal or external reviewers changed significantly.

"Since North Carolina has been a leader in efforts to improve safety, a lack of improvement in this state suggests that further improvement is also needed at the national level. Although the absence of large-scale improvement is a cause for concern, it is not evidence that current efforts to improve safety are futile. On the contrary, data have shown that focused efforts to reduce discrete harms, such as nosocomial infections and surgical complications, can significantly improve safety," the authors conclude.

The study was supported by the Rx Foundation.

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