Pa­tient safety not im­prov­ing

In­dus­try needs bet­ter tools to gauge suc­cess: Binder

Modern Healthcare - - COVER STORY - Ashok Sel­vam

Atrio of in­de­pen­dent stud­ies re­leased last week bol­stered the view that U.S. pa­tient safety is not im­prov­ing de­spite the ef­forts of doc­tors, hos­pi­tals, the fed­eral gov­ern­ment and var­i­ous pa­tient-safety groups.

“The more you know about pa­tient safety, the more shock­ing the is­sue be­comes,” said Leah Binder, pres­i­dent and CEO of the Leapfrog Group, the Wash­ing­ton-based em­ploy­ers’ coali­tion.

One study, pub­lished in Health Af­fairs and backed by the Com­mon­wealth Fund, showed the U.S. trail­ing France, Ger­many and the U.K. in health­care pre­ventable mor­tal­ity, also known as amenable mor­tal­ity (see chart, p. 6).

An­other study by the Johns Hop­kins Arm­strong In­sti­tute for Pa­tient Safety and Qual­ity re­vealed that as many as 40,500 crit­i­cally ill adult U.S. hospi­tal pa­tients die an­nu­ally with an un­di­ag­nosed med­i­cal con­di­tion that might have con­trib­uted to or caused their death. That’s 28% of adult ICU pa­tients. For 8% of those pa­tients, the mis­take may have led to or caused death.

Binder said she was most dis­mayed by the re­sults from a study in the Jour­nal of the Amer­i­can Col­lege of Sur­geons. The study’s re­search, done by staff at Emory Univer­sity in At­lanta, showed that 11.3% of gen­eral surgery pa­tients were read­mit­ted within 30 days of dis­charge.

There needs to be a shift on how the in­dus­try gauges suc­cess, Binder con­tended. It shouldn’t be who has the best MRI ma­chine. It should be who has the fewest com­pli­ca­tions from surg­eries.

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