Hospitals Still Bad for Your Health

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A study set to be published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine has found that hospitals are still doing a lousy job of taking care of their patients:

The study, conducted from 2002 to 2007 in 10 North Carolina hospitals, found that harm to patients was common and that the number of incidents did not decrease over time. The most common problems were complications from procedures or drugs and hospital-acquired infections.

….Dr. [Christopher] Landrigan’s team focused on North Carolina because its hospitals, compared with those in most states, have been more involved in programs to improve patient safety.

But instead 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.

The worst part of this is that, as near as I can tell, a large number of these injuries wouldn’t happen if hospitals simply got off their asses and put in place some well-known procedures that prevent them. But they don’t. Sometimes it’s because they cost money, but other times it’s because they just can’t be bothered. I really have no idea why we put up with this.

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