September 22, 2014

Report: Medicare Harms 134,000 and Kills 15,000 Every Month

pin it button Report: Medicare Harms 134,000 and Kills 15,000 Every Month

Exhausted Doctor Report: Medicare Harms 134,000 and Kills 15,000 Every Month

Health Impact News Editor Comments: In this report by Marshall Allen of ProPublica, strong evidence is given to show that the vast majority of medical errors go unreported in the United States. Citing the government’s own data from the Department of Health and Human Services, we learn that medical errors among Medicare beneficiaries alone probably account for 134,000 injuries and 15,000 deaths every month. That would make Medicare the third leading cause of death in the United States, according to government data from the CDC. Is there any doubt any longer that the entire medical system in the United States is now easily the #1 cause of death??

Why Patients Don’t Report Medical Errors

by Marshall Allen
ProPublica

I was recently browsing through the nearly 200 stories we’ve compiled with our Patient Harm Questionnaire, when I was reminded again of a troubling truth. Many of the people who suffer harm while undergoing medical care do not file formal complaints with regulators. The reasons are numerous: They’re often traumatized, disabled, unaware they’ve been a victim of a medical error or  don’t understand the bureaucracy.

That’s a problem for those individual patients and for the rest of us. There are many places to complain: a state licensing agency; a professional licensing board that monitorsdoctors or nurses; the Joint Commission, which accredits hospitals or a Medicare Quality Improvement Organization. But if there are no complaints, there are no independent investigations, and that means no outside accountability for providers who may have made mistakes, and no public inspection reports that documents the case — assuming an agency makes reports public, which is not always the case. It’s a collective problem because patient safety flaws that remain hidden, if they are not corrected, may be repeated.

We have staggering estimates of the number of people harmed while undergoing medical treatment. A review of medical records by the U.S. Health and Human Services Department’s inspector general found that in a single month one in seven Medicare patients was harmed in the hospital, or roughly 134,000 people. “An estimated 1.5 percent of Medicare beneficiaries experienced an event that contributed to their deaths,” the IG found, “which projects to 15,000 patients in a single month.”

But there’s no central system in place to tally and track these events. There’s no way to know when and where patients are being harmed or to tell if the problem is worse in one place than another.

It’s not like keeping track of patient harm is a new idea. More than a decade ago the Institute of Medicine’s landmark “To Err Is Human” report called for a national system to capture cases of serious harm to patients or death. The report said accurate reporting provides accountability and knowledge that leads to learning. That’s information that could save lives.

“You really can’t improve what you don’t measure,” said Dr. Julia Hallisy, president of the Empowered Patient Coalition. “How do you know where to focus your improvement efforts if you haven’t measured what’s happening in the first place?”

Efforts at the state level appear to be falling short, according to federal inspectors. In many states, hospital are required by law to file a report every time a patient suffers unexpected harm — often called  “sentinel” or “adverse” events. But a July report by the HHS inspector general’s office found that only 12 percent of harmful events identified by the office even met state requirements for reporting them. Compounding the problem: Hospitals themselves only reported 1 percent of the harmful events.

We found something similar when I was a reporter in Las Vegas. We used hospital billing records to identify 3,689 cases of patient harm at the city’s hospitals in a two-year period. Each of those cases would fit the state’s definition of a “sentinel event,” meaning the hospitals were required by law to report them. Yet in the same time period they reported to the state only 402 sentinel events.

The federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality is now accepting public comment about a proposed program to encourage consumers to complain about harm suffered while undergoing medical care. The goals include collecting information in a common format, developing prototype methods for gathering information on the phone and Internet and creating a follow-up questionnaire for medical providers. Patients will be asked what happened, who was involved and for permission to follow up with the providers involved in the event.

I recently referred the 1,000 members of the ProPublica Patient Harm Facebook Group to a story about the proposal in The New York Times. Many members of the group have suffered harm firsthand and filed complaints, so the article created lively discussion:

  • Robin Karr said that based on her experience, she’s skeptical about reporting harm directly to the government “but not without hope” about the proposed program.
  • Debra Van Putten said she knows many people who have filed complaints about harm they suffered, but little came of their efforts. Patients want more than mere acknowledgement, she said. They want accountability for whoever is responsible.
  • Martha Deed said there are so many barriers to a patient reporting harm — emotional trauma and physical disabilities, feeling intimidated by providers, social pressure not to complain — that a passive questionnaire is unlikely to elicit responses. Instead, the patient harm information should be gathered in a way that’s standardized, she said, like the national survey that’s administered to recently discharged hospital patients that has results publicly reported on Hospital Compare.

That’s food for thought for those developing the program.

We’d also love to hear your comments. How do those of you who work in the medical field feel about this type of reporting system? Patients, what do you think about it? And what would you recommend as characteristics that would be essential to such a program?

Read the Full article and Comment here: http://www.propublica.org/article/why-patients-dont-report-medical-errors


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Statin Scam: People with Higher Cholesterol Live Longer than People with Low Cholesterol

Statin Scam: People with Higher Cholesterol Live Longer than People with Low Cholesterol

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Here is a fact that has been known for quite a long time, but it is still news to many people: People with higher cholesterol levels live longer than people with lower cholesterol levels.

The reason why this fact is not well-known in the general public is because it would put a huge dent into a $100 BILLION drug market for statin drugs – drugs that lower your cholesterol. With approximately one out of every 4 Americans over the age of 50 currently prescribed a statin drug, a drug with very serious side effects, this is certainly one issue you should investigate yourself.

Liberian Scientist and Professor: Ebola Virus Manufactured by Western Pharmaceuticals, US DoD?

Liberian Scientist and Professor: Ebola Virus Manufactured by Western Pharmaceuticals, US DoD?

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This editorial written by Dr. Cyril Broderick, a former professor of Plant Pathology at the University of Liberia’s College of Agriculture and Forestry, was published by Liberia’s largest newspaper as headline news. He claims that Ebola is a genetically modified organism (GMO) introduced by western medicine and possibly a result of military research.

The western pro-pharma media has chided Dr. Broderick, saying that such an inflammatory piece of writing is “irresponsible” since so many Africans are already distrustful of western medicine. They see western medicine as the answer to Africa’s deadly diseases such as Ebola, while Dr. Borderick sees it as the cause. Dr. Broderick states “African people are not ignorant and gullible, as is being implicated.”

Whether right or wrong, we feel African leaders have a voice in this matter, and should not be censored.

New GAO Report on Obamacare: Security Leaks, Cover Ups, and Lies

New GAO Report on Obamacare: Security Leaks, Cover Ups, and Lies

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The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released its report this week on Obamacare. The report shows massive security flaws, cover-ups, and lies. Is this the new norm for government overseeing health matters? The GAO is also expected to soon conclude a report on the Vaccine Injury Compensation Trust Fund which has accumulated $3.5 BILLION in 2014.

CDC Whistleblower Dr. Thompson: “I’ve Stopped Lying” – Willing to Testify on Vaccine Fraud

CDC Whistleblower Dr. Thompson: “I’ve Stopped Lying” – Willing to Testify on Vaccine Fraud

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The Autism Media Channel has released another video from CDC Whistleblower Dr. William Thompson, confessing to the fact that he was asked by his boss to lie, and that he’s now “stopped lying.”

In the video, Thompson states that the CDC has “become paralyzed” over the vaccine-autism issue. He states that the whole branch of the vaccine division is “becoming more paralyzed, with less and less being done.”

This failure by the CDC to investigate why vaccines cause autism in some children has “put the research 10 years behind” according to Thompson. He states that “because the CDC has not been transparent, we missed 10 years of research.”

Thompson goes on to state that we need Congress to come in and look at all the data related to vaccines and autism that has been previously withheld by the CDC, and have an independent contractor look at it. Thompson makes it clear that he is ready to testify before Congress, if asked to do so.

How the Government has Earned $3.5 BILLION from the Claim that Vaccines Don’t Cause Autism

How the Government has Earned $3.5 BILLION from the Claim that Vaccines Don’t Cause Autism

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Few among the American public truly understand just how huge the U.S. vaccine market is. Not only do drug companies reap huge profits from vaccines, so too does the U.S. government.

For example, did you know that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has accumulated $3.5 BILLION in vaccine tax revenue which is currently “sitting” in the Vaccine Injury Compensation Trust Fund?

This trust fund was established in 1988 “to compensate vaccine-related injury or death claims for covered vaccines.” The money in this fund comes from a $0.75 excise tax on vaccines recommended by the CDC.

So why does this Trust Fund have such a high balance, instead of paying medical expenses to families with vaccine damaged children? Probably because the government has decided that vaccines do not cause autism, the most common claim filed in the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program since its inception in 1986.

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