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Hospital Errors Common and Underreported, Study Says

Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Thinkstock(SALT LAKE CITY) -- Hospital errors are common.  In fact, as many as one-third of hospital visits leads to hospital-related injuries, according to a report published Thursday in Health Affairs.

"We know these types of injuries can increase the risk of other complications -- even death," said Dr. David Classen, the study's lead author and an associate professor of medicine at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.  "They also increase the risk of readmissions and long-term disability."

Using the "global trigger tool" -- a checklist executed by a third party reviewing medical records -- Classen and colleagues showed that as many as 90 percent of hospital errors are missed by current surveillance systems.

"Clearly, we've made improvements, because hospitals have shown a reduction in mortality and the rate of some infections," Classen said.  "But this study suggests there's a whole lot more work to do."

The study revealed that current methods for tracking hospital errors may be inadequate and may be skewing data on the effectiveness efforts to improve patient safety.

"I think the next step is to push policy makers to develop much better tools for measuring hospital safety and get them into hospitals," Classen said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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