Report Details Medical Error Horrors

The above is the headline from the June 10, 2004 Canadian publication, “Globe and Mail”. The article reports on a study that shows that the treatment of patients who have been victims of medical errors cost the Canadian health care system $750 million each year and adds an additional 1.1 million days to hospital stays.

The report was released on June 9th by the Canadian Institute for Health Information. Included in what the article termed the “graphic details” are the following statistics:

  • One in 9 adults contracts an infection while in hospital, ranging from pneumonia to SARS
  • One in 9 patients receives the wrong medication, or the wrong dose
  • One in 16 reported an adverse event for themselves or a loved one in the past year
  • One in 20 women suffers severe tearing during childbirth
  • One in every 81 babies born vaginally suffers trauma, emerging with injuries such as a broken shoulder
  • One in 152 deaths are associated with preventable adverse events for medical/surgical patients in acute care hospitals.
  • One in every 299 patients receiving a blood transfusion will have a reaction
  • One in every 1,124 adults over the age of 65 suffers a broken hip during a hospital stay
  • One in every 6,667 surgery patients will have a foreign object left in his or her body after the procedure
  • One in 72,046 got infected with hepatitis B from a blood transfusion
  • One 1 in 10 million got infected with HIV from a blood transfusion

The article notes that this study follows on the heels of another study revealing that one in every 13 medical/surgical, acute-care hospital patients suffers from an “adverse event,” and that these failings, avoidable and otherwise, kill up to 24,000 Canadians annually.