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Report on Adverse Events in Hospitals in October 2018 Found Quarter of Medicare Patients Experienced Harm

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The Office of Inspector General U.S. Department of Health and Human Services OIG conducted a study to update the national incidence rate of patient harm events among hospitalized Medicare patients in October 2018. This work included calculating a new rate of preventable events and updating the cost of patient harm to the Medicare program.

For the report, medical records for a random sample of 770 Medicare patients who were discharged from acute-care hospitals during October 2018 were reviewed. A two-stage medical record review was conducted to estimate a national incidence rate of adverse events and temporary harm events. The review included all causes of patient harm regardless of whether the harm was preventable.

The report found twenty-five percent of Medicare patients experienced patient harm during their hospital stays in October 2018. Patient harm includes adverse events and temporary harm events.

Twelve percent of patients experienced adverse events, which are events that led to longer hospital stays, permanent harm, life-saving intervention, or death. In addition to the patients who experienced adverse events, 13 percent of patients experienced temporary harm events, which required intervention but did not cause lasting harm, prolong hospital stays, or require life-sustaining measures. Temporary harm events were sometimes serious and could have caused further harm if providers had not promptly treated patients.

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