Medicare Data on Healthcare Errors Released

The release of the data was a requirement of the national health care reform act.

Data on Medicare healthcare errors are now available at the “Hospital Compare” website, Information on eight serious and preventable errors that occurred at more than 4,700 US hospitals was made available in April 2011. The data were collected from hospital billing reports for Medicare patients between October 2008 and June 2010.

Since 2008, Medicare has not reimbursed hospitals for the cost of care when preventable complications and events occurred, such as patient falls, transfusion of wrong type blood, and development of pressure ulcers, bloodstream infections, and urinary tract infections.

Patient falls were the most common harmful event that occurred, at a rate of one fall for every 2,000 patient stays. The majority of the falls resulted in a broken bone. Pressure ulcers were the next most common preventable event, and the rarest type of error was transfusion of wrong type blood.

The availability of data on healthcare errors gives consumers yet another avenue for evaluating hospitals. With many hospitals advertising these days, it’s difficult for consumers to make informed decisions about which hospital is best. Now, preventable error rates can be compared, and hopefully, this information will be used to correct deficiencies at the hospitals where improvement is needed.