Medicare Patients Experience Potentially Fatal ‘Adverse Events’ During Hospital Stays

Medicare patients experience potentially fatal 'adverse events' during hospital staysA recent study provides some alarming statistics about the rate of adverse and often fatal health events among Medicare patients admitted to hospitals nationwide.

The study, performed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, found that 13.5 percent of Medicare patients admitted to a hospital during the test period experienced at least one 'adverse event' while in the hospital. A full 18 percent of those individuals experienced at least two adverse events, and a handful of others experienced as many as three unrelated health problems.

Additionally, an estimated 1.5 percent of hospitalized Medicare patients experienced events that contributed to their deaths. 

Despite the high rate of adverse events, less than 1 percent of patients experienced an event that falls into the National Quality Forum (NFQ) list of Serious Reportable Events. According to the study, this list is used by a number of state and private entities for measuring the prevalence of adverse health events. The list's failure to include most of the study's observed adverse events leads the authors to question its value. 

In addition to 13.5 percent experiencing more serious adverse events, an additional 13.5 percent experienced events that resulted in temporary harm, the study found.