Potentially avoidable medical errors account for about 1.5% of Medicare spending on inpatient hospital care, officials estimate.
Officials in the Office of the Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services discuss the cost of treating Medicare enrollees for adverse events in hospitals.
Inspector general office investigators defined “adverse event” as “harm to a patient as a result of medical care,” such as infection associated with use of a catheter. They looked at the files of 780 Medicare beneficiaries picked at random from all beneficiaries discharged during October 2008.
The investigators found that about 1% of the beneficiaries in the sample experienced a very serious adverse event and about 13% experienced a serious adverse event.
About 13% additional Medicare beneficiaries experienced adverse events that caused problems that were dealt with during their hospital stays, investigators found.