Many Stroke Patients Affected by Hospital Errors

Wednesday, February 21, 2007; 12:00 AM

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 21 (HealthDay News) -- Hospital procedures need to be modified to reduce the risk of medical errors and adverse events in stroke patients, U.S researchers say.

A new study found that 12 percent of stroke patients had suffered adverse events during treatment.

Researchers analyzed data on 1,440 stroke patients admitted to Strong Memorial Hospital at the University of Rochester Medical Center between July 2001 and December 2004.

Of those 1,440 patients, 173 (12 percent) suffered a total of 183 adverse events, defined as an injury to a patient during medical management. Adverse events are not necessarily the result of a medical error, which are incorrect actions or plans that may harm a patient.

Of those 183 adverse events, 86 were preventable, 37 were not preventable, and 60 were indeterminate, the study said.

Of the 86 preventable adverse events, 37 percent were transcription/documentation errors, 23 percent were failure to perform a clinical task, 10 percent were communication/handoff errors between health providers, and 10 percent were failed independent checks/wrong calculations.

"Although most patients who experienced a preventable adverse event were not seriously harmed, adverse events do lead to temporary discomfort, longer hospital stays, and, in some cases, serious injury or the potential for legal action," study author Dr. Robert G. Holloway, of the University of Rochester Medical Center, said in a prepared statement.

"If these figures were applied to the nearly 1 million patients admitted to U.S. hospitals each year for stroke, 50,000 to 100,000 patients may experience an adverse event related to an error," he said.

The study is published in the Feb. 20 issue ofNeurology.

More information

The U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality offers five steps to safer health care.

SOURCE: American Academy of Neurology, news release, Feb. 19, 2007

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