The New York Times today reports on a study, to be released tomorrow in the New England Journal of Medicine, that demonstrates hospitals are not making enough progress on improving patient safety. The study was conducted over a 5 year period in 10 North Carolina hospitals. The result is sobering:
"[I]nstead of improvements, the researchers found a high rate of problems. About 18 percent of patients were harmed by medical care, some more than once, and 63.1 percent of the injuries were judged to be preventable. Most of the problems were temporary and treatable, but some were serious, and a few — 2.4 percent — caused or contributed to a patient’s death, the study found."
You can find the story here. Hospitals are incredibly complex places and there are no simple solutions. But the fact remains that many of these problems are quite preventable, and far too few hospitals are employing the kind of solutions that we now know prevents these kinds of mistakes. This study, like many others, should be another wake up call to all of us for greater vigilance in attacking this problem.