Entries in Report (7)


80 Percent of Hospital Errors Go Unreported

Getty(WASHINGTON) -- Martine Ehrenclou felt sidelined when her mother was admitted to the hospital for acute pancreatitis.

"I didn't know what I was supposed to do and what my role was in her care," said Ehrenclou, 51, of Los Angeles. "I just thought I needed to comfort my mother and just talk to the doctors."

But what was explained to Ehrenclou as a common procedure for the condition turned fatal. While in the hospital, Ehrenclou's mother, who was 71, acquired a host of complications including pneumonia and a staph infection.

Within five months, Ehrenclou's mother died.  

Hospital staff members could have made some mistakes with her mother's care, but Ehrenclou would never know.

A new report released Friday by the inspector general of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found that more than 80 percent of hospital errors go unreported by hospital employees.

The report, which looked at data from hospitalized Medicare patients, also found that most hospitals where errors were reported rarely changed their policies and practices to prevent repeat errors, saying the event did not reveal any "systemic quality problems."

The errors included overused or wrong medications, severe bedsores, hospital-based infections and even patient death.

In order to be paid by Medicare, hospitals are required to track and analyze medical errors. But organizations that inspect hospitals loosely regulate hospital tracking records, the study said.

Also, many hospital employees may not recognize "what constitutes patient harm," or they may not realize that particular events harmed patients and should be reported, according to the report.

The national report looked at nearly 300 adverse patient events acquired from medical records and traced the records back to its respective hospitals to see whether the hospitals had identified medical error. The report found very few hospitals did.

Sixty-one percent of unreported cases were not perceived as errors by hospital staff. The remaining 25 percent of unreported cases were situations that were typically reported by the staff, but happened not to be reported.

"We're always going to make mistakes," said Dr. Peter Pronovost, medical director at the Center for Innovation in Quality Patient Care at Johns Hopkins University Medical School of Medicine. "What we need to do is reduce harm."

The more serious events, like hospital-acquired infections and patient deaths, were no more likely to be reported than the smaller cases, like allergic reactions to medications.

Pronovost created a standard patient safety checklist for commonly performed procedures that are implemented in hospitals nationwide.  

The Center for Medicare Services also plans to develop and distribute a list of adverse events that should be reported, said Ruth Ann Dorrill, deputy regional inspector general for the Department of Health and Human Services.

Staff members may have feared retribution or may have not wanted to report their own colleagues said Dorrill.

The study is one of many finding similar results. In April 2011, a study released in the journal Health Affairs found that one third of hospital visits will lead to hospital related injuries, and as many as 90 percent of hospital errors are missed by current surveillance systems.

Forty-four percent of the errors identified were preventable, Dorrill said.

But beyond staff education, family members and patients themselves should be educated too, said Ehrenclou, who authored the book, "Critical Conditions: The Essential Hospital Guide to Get Your Loved One Out Alive."

Ehrenclou promised herself she would never again feel uncertain about her role at the hospital as she felt about her mother. Three years later, when her godmother was admitted to a different hospital for complications because of her diabetes, Ehrenclou felt better prepared.

The hospital staff informed her that her godmother received twice the dose of the sedative benzodiazepine, and her body wasn't capable of clearing the medication.

Her godmother also endured bed sores during her seven-month stay. Although her godmother also passed away, Ehrenclou said she became more involved in her godmother's hospital care by asking questions to understand her condition.

"I would've done so many things differently with my mother. I would've gotten a second opinion from a specialist. I would've done research on her disease," said Ehrenclou. "I would've been on top of all of her medications. I would've communicated all of that to her doctors."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Is Your County Healthy? Report Gives US Counties Annual Checkup

Burke/Triolo Productions/Thinkstock(MADISON, Wis.) -- You may have an idea on how healthy your town or city is, but what about your county?

An annual set of reports is now available ranking the health of almost every U.S. county, and the results show many different factors play a role in shaping people's health.

"Although health care is really important, much of what influences health happens outside the doctor's office, including education, income, access to healthy foods, places to exercise and smoke-free air," said Bridget Booske, senior scientist at the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute in Madison.

Booske is also deputy director of County Health Rankings, a project done in collaboration with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.  One purpose of the reports is to help counties understand what influences people's health as well as to determine how long they will live.

ABC News looked at the five most populous states and which counties ranked highest (healthiest) and lowest (unhealthiest):

-- Highest: Marin
-- Lowest: Trinity

-- Highest: Williamson
-- Lowest: Marion

New York:
-- Highest: Putnam
-- Lowest: Bronx

-- Highest: Collier
-- Lowest: Union

-- Highest: Kendall
-- Lowest: Alexander

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Report: Alzheimer’s by the Numbers

Keith Brofsky/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Every 69 seconds one person develops Alzheimer’s disease, according to the latest Alzheimer’s Association report released Tuesday.

The 2011 Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures highlights this statistic and more in a comprehensive report that depicts how the disease has impacted Americans and their caretakers.

The report notes that Alzheimer's is the sixth leading cause of death across all ages in the U.S. and the fifth among those 65 and old.  The disease is also the only one among the top 10 leading causes of death in the country that cannot be prevented, cured, or even slowed.

Between 2000 and 2008 alone, deaths from Alzheimer’s have increased by 66 percent.

Moreover, approximately 5.4 million Americans are living with the disease and the number is expected to climb to 16 million by 2050.

The disease has also taken a financial toll on the 15 million Alzheimer's and dementia caregivers who have provided unpaid care valued at $202.6 billion.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


CDC Report Finds Fewer Youths Are Having Sex

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Fewer teens and young adults are having sex, according to a report on sexual behavior, attraction, and identity released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The report, which presented updated findings from the national survey of family growth between 2006 and 2008, found that 27 percent of males and 29 percent of females between the ages of 15 and 24 reported never having sex.  The new percentages represent an estimated five percent rise from 2002, when similar data was last released.

Among the report's other findings, which did not differ from 2002, are:

-- More than 50 percent of young people aged 15 to 24 who reported having oral sex engaged in this behavior prior to having vaginal intercourse

-- 13 percent of women, but only 5.2 percent of men, reported having same-sex contact in their lifetime

-- 3.5 percent of women reported they were bisexual compared to 1.1 percent of men

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Report: Millions of Baby Boomers Will Face Alzheimer's

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- As more than 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 each day this year, one in eight of them are expected to develop Alzheimer’s disease, according to a new report by the Alzheimer's Association.

The report, titled "Generation Alzheimer’s," predicts an estimated 10 million baby boomers will either die with or from Alzheimer’s.  The disease, which is among the top 10 causes of death in America, is the only one that isn't preventable or curable.

The National Institutes of Health spends only $480 million a year on research for Alzheimer’s, compared to the more than $6 billion, $4 billion and $3 billion it spends on research for cancer, heart disease and HIV/AIDS, respectively.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Report: Teen Driving Accidents Kill Many Not in Car

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(PHILADELPHIA) -- Nearly a third of those killed in car crashes involving teen drivers are not even in the teen’s car -- they are bicyclists, pedestrians or occupants of other vehicles, according to a new national report.

The inaugural report, conducted by The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and State Farm Insurance Companies, found that in 2008, 681,000 people were involved in accidents where a teen driver was behind the wheel, causing injuries to more than 40,000.  Out of those who died from these accidents, nearly 30 percent were not in cars driven by teens.

The report also found that more teens die on the road than from murder, suicide and cancer combined.  Nearly a quarter -- 24 percent -- of total teen deaths are the result of car crashes.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Report: One in Five Americans Experienced Mental Illness Last Year

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(ROCKVILLE, Md.) -- Over 45 million American adults experienced mental illness last year, according to a new report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services.

Dr. Peter Delaney, the agency's Center for Behavioral Health Statistics director, says the report found that "about one in five Americans has experienced mental illness over the past year," and that "about 8.4 million Americans had a serious thought about committing suicide."

"The is the first time that we've been able to put a report like this together," Delaney adds.  "So, this is a first-of-a-kind report."

Delaney says doctors need to do a better job identifying people who are at risk for hurting themselves.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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