25% of Medicare recipients harmed during hospital stays, HHS says

Twenty-five percent of Medicare enrollees experienced harm during hospital stays in October 2018, according to a May 12 report from the HHS Office of the Inspector General. 

For its study, the office reviewed medical records for a random sample of 770 Medicare patients who were discharged from acute care hospitals during October 2018.

Six things to know:  

1. Twelve percent of patients experienced adverse effects that led to longer hospital stays, permanent harm, lifesaving intervention or death, according to the report. 

2. Thirteen percent of patients experienced temporary harm, which required intervention but did not cause lasting harm, prolong hospital stays, or require life-sustaining measures. 

3. The most common type of harm was related to medication, such as patients experiencing delirium or other changes in mental status, according to the report. 

4. Forty-three percent of harm events were preventable, according to the report. Preventable events were commonly linked to substandard or inadequate care provided to the patient. 

5. Twenty-three percent of patients who experience harm events  required treatment that led to additional Medicare costs, according to the report. 

6. A previous report found that 27 percent of hospitalized Medicare patients experienced harm in October 2008. 

Read the full report here

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