Patient Safety in American Hospitals Study-New Hampshire Doesn’t Fare So Well

The 7th Annual “Patient Safety in American Hospital Study” has been published and is available online at The study identifies patient safety incidence rates among Medicare patients in almost all of the country’s 5,000 non-federal hospitals. The findings should prove helpful for healthcare institutions that are concerned about tranparency, accountability, and patient safety.

The study analyzed data from 2006-2008 and found that there were nearly 100,000 patient deaths attributable to safety lapses and medical errors. The costs associated with these medical errors were an astounding $8.9 billion. The study found that nearly 10% of Medicare patients died from safety errors. The highest incidence rates concerning safety errors included the following: failure to rescue (92.71), decubitus ulcer (36.05), post-operative respiratory failure (17.52), and post-operative sepsis (16.53).

Of the 8 New Hampshire hospitals that were eligible to receive a Patient Safety Excellence Award, none were recognized for the award. New Hampshire hospitals received an overall grade of average in “Patient Safety Observed-to-Expected Incidence Rate” analysis. The areas in which New Hampshire was rated “worst” included death in low mortatlity DRG’s (diagnosis related groups), latrogenic pneumothorax, and selected infections due to medical care. The only area in which NH ranked as one of the best concerned rankings for incidents related to decubitus ulcer.

The study concluded, “Avoiding mistakes by chance is no longer acceptable. When patients enter the health care system, they entrust their health and their lives to their caregivers. The health care system must continue to put systematic safe practices in place to ensure that the system created to save them doesn’t unintentionally harm them.

If all U.S. hospitals had performed at the same level as the Patient Safety Excellence Award
hospitals, the U.S. health care system could have saved nearly $2.1 billion and potentially prevented 22,590 deaths in just three years among Medicare cases alone.”