Medical Mistakes are the Third Leading Cause of Death in the U.S.

By Hal M. Bundrick

NEW YORK (MainStreet) ¿ Obamacare has thrust the price we pay for healthcare into the spotlight, but beyond considering costs, Americans must consider quality as well, according to Leapfrog, a nonprofit advocate for patient safety. In new research conducted by Patient Safety America, the third leading cause of death in the U.S. is medical error, with an estimated 440,000 Americans dying annually from preventable hospital mistakes.

"We are burying a population the size of Miami every year from medical errors that can be prevented," says Leah Binder, president and CEO of Leapfrog. "During this time of rapid health care transformation, it's vital that we work together to arm patients with the information they need and tell doctors and hospitals that the time for change is now."

The organization issues grades ranging from "A" to "F" for more than 2,500 U.S. general hospitals, based on errors, accidents, injuries and infections that kill or injure patients. The Hospital Safety Score is available free online at www.hospitalsafetyscore.org.

"A number of hospitals have improved by one or even two grades, indicating hospitals are taking steps toward safer practices, but these efforts aren't enough," Binder says.

Leapfrog says of the 2,539 general hospitals issued a Hospital Safety Score, 813 earned an "A," 661 earned a "B," 893 earned a "C," 150 earned a "D" and 22 earned an "F."

The report says that on average, there was no improvement in reported performance on the measures included in the score, with the exception of hospital adoption of computerized physician order entry (CPOE). Federal policy has spurred the expansion of CPOE technology.

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