A new Office of Inspector General (OIG) report found that a quarter of Medicare patients experienced harm in October 2018. For nearly a quarter of these patients, harm events resulted in additional costs to Medicare. Physician-reviewers determined that 43 percent of the harm events could have been prevented if patients had been provided better care.
In 2010, OIG reported the first national incidence rate of patient harm events in hospitals—27 percent of hospitalized Medicare patients experienced harm in October 2008. During that month, hospital care associated with these events cost Medicare and patients an estimated $324 million in reimbursement, coinsurance, and deductible payments. Nearly half of these events were preventable.
OIG conducted a new 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, researchers reviewed medical records for a random sample of 770 Medicare patients who were discharged from acute-care hospitals during October 2018. They conducted a two-stage medical record review to estimate a national incidence rate of adverse events and temporary harm events. Their review included all causes of patient harm regardless of whether the harm was preventable.
The research 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.
- Report in Brief – Adverse Events in Hospitals: A Quarter of Medicare Patients Experienced Harm in October 2018. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General. May 2022