Health Affairs, an online journal that investigates health policy, recently reported a study on quality and safety in the health care industry and determined that hospital "adverse events" might be ten times more prevalent than previously thought.
According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, adverse events are medical errors that cause "injury to a patient as the result of a medical intervention rather than the underlying medical condition" and "represent an unintentional harm to a patient arising from any aspect of healthcare management."
The study, conducted by authors David Classen of the University of Utah and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, used three methods to review 795 patient records for adverse events including voluntary reporting, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) Patient Safety Indicators, and the Global Trigger Tool.
All three methods received different results. Four adverse events were found through voluntary reporting, 35 adverse events were found through AHRQ, and the Global Trigger Tool found an astonishing 350 adverse events - ten times as many as the AHRQ.
The authors of the study say that voluntary reporting and the AHRQ "could lead to seriously flawed perceptions of patient safety in the United States" or mislead efforts to improve patient care and safety.
One reason behind the variations in the number of adverse events per method found could be that the Global Trigger Tool is a more in depth and extensive detection system than the other methods.
One thing is for certain; adverse events should be few and far between regardless of the occurrence rate and improving patient safety should be a top concern of all hospitals and health care providers.
If you have suffered an injury at the hands of a doctor, nurse or other health care professional, speaking with an experienced medical malpractice attorney is recommended.