October 21, 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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Use of Aborted Human Cell Lines in Vaccines Linked to Rise in Autism

Use of Aborted Human Cell Lines in Vaccines Linked to Rise in Autism

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Researchers from the Sound Choice Pharmaceutical Institute recently published a study showing a correlation with the introduction of human fetal cell lines used as contaminants in childhood vaccines, and the rapid rise of autism. The study was published in the Journal of Public Health and Epidemiology, an open access Academic Journal.

I reviewed the full length research paper and found the methodology of the research very thorough. The researchers tracked not only the introduction of aborted fetal cell lines introduced into vaccines used in the childhood vaccination scheduled in the United States, but they also tracked standards for autism diagnoses as published in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. This manual is used in the field of psychology and has undergone several revisions. One of the claims made for the rising rate of autism in America today is that it is primarily related to changes of diagnosis. This study used sophisticated software to account for these changes in autism diagnosis, and found:

“Autistic disorder change points years are coincident with introduction of vaccines manufactured using human fetal cell lines, containing fetal and retroviral contaminants, into childhood vaccine regimens. This pattern was repeated in the US, UK, Western Australia and Denmark. Thus, rising autistic disorder prevalence is directly related to vaccines manufactured utilizing human fetal cells. Increased paternal age and DSM revisions were not related to rising autistic disorder prevalence.”

Boston Nurses Speak Out Against Mandatory Flu Shots

Boston Nurses Speak Out Against Mandatory Flu Shots

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Last month (September 2014) the Massachusetts Nurses Association sued Brigham and Women’s Hospital over a new policy that required nurses to receive the annual flu vaccine as a condition for employment.

The nurses were, of course, criticized by the medical establishment. They were accused of putting their own interests above the needs of patients. Lynn Nicholas, president of the Massachusetts Hospital Association, stated that the nurses were: “putting a pet peeve of theirs above the safety and well-being of the patients they serve, their families, visitors to the hospital, and their colleagues.”

Pet peeve? Really?

When nurses all across the United States and Canada are willing to sacrifice their jobs and careers to avoid the annual flu shot, it is time to sit up and take notice. This is obviously something much more than a “pet peeve.”

Trish Powers, representing Brigham nurses in Boston fired back a comment that The Boston Globe published. It is titled “Brigham nurses know flu vaccine can do harm.”

Gardasil: The Day Our Daughter’s Life Changed

Gardasil: The Day Our Daughter’s Life Changed

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The Gardasil vaccine has changed Skylee’s life in so many ways and we do not know how many more symptoms will show up and change her life even more than it has already done. Our whole family has been affected by this vaccine and all of our lives have been turned upside down that terrible day in 2013.

If only the doctors would recognize Skylee has gone from being a healthy young girl to an invalid when the only major change in her life occurred on the day she had that single shot of Gardasil.

Will There Be An Ebola Outbreak in America?

Will There Be An Ebola Outbreak in America?

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So here is what inquiring minds want to know:

Why did U.S. health officials in Atlanta and on the ground in Africa ignore the exploding Ebola epidemic last spring?

Why did U.S. government officials fly American aid workers infected with Ebola to the U.S. rather than treating them with experimental drugs at hospitals in Africa?

Why did the U.S. government press the United Nations to adopt a resolution calling for no restrictions on international travel from Liberia and other Ebola-stricken countries?

Why did the Centers for Disease Control, supposedly the world’s leading infection control agency, fail to immediately assist Texas health officials when the first case of Ebola was diagnosed on US soil to guarantee that, at a minimum, the kind of infection control measures used in most nursing homes in America would be carried out?

Why has the Director of the CDC repeatedly stated that the only way a person can transmit Ebola is if they have a fever and said that people cannot get Ebola unless they have direct contact with the body fluids of an infected person – but that under no circumstances is Ebola airborne – when he knows, or should know, those statements could be false?

And why are experimental Ebola vaccines being fast tracked into human trials and promoted as the final solution rather than ramping up testing and production of the experimental ZMapp drug that has already saved the lives of several Ebola infected Americans?

A logical conclusion is that some people in industry, government and the World Health Organization did not want the Ebola outbreak to be confined to several nations in Africa because that would fail to create a lucrative global market for mandated use of fast tracked Ebola vaccines by every one of the seven billion human beings living on this planet.

Similarities Between 1976 Swine Flu Hoax and Ebola?

Similarities Between 1976 Swine Flu Hoax and Ebola?

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Read this before you consider purchasing a hazmat suit to protect yourself from Ebola!

Are we facing an Ebola pandemic that will kill millions, or is this just a marketing plan of the pharmaceutical industry to sell more drugs and vaccines? Is the current strain of the Ebola virus a secret creation of pharmaceutical company scientists, biological warfare researchers, or the fruit of Monsanto’s product development team?

Was Ebola created, or did it just accidentally spill over into humans from an animal host such as African fruit bats?

Is the US government intentionally not taking strong action to prevent Ebola from spreading or is there really minimal risk to Americans? Are there groups that want to decrease the world population through spreading contagious diseases such as Ebola, or is this just another imaginary plan that is being reported by certain conspiracy theory groups?

Is the Ebola virus a local epidemic, a global pandemic, or a hoax? Is life in America as we have known it about to collapse into chaos and martial law, or will we be safe and secure once we take the Ebola vaccine?

Will more people die from the Ebola vaccine than would have died from the disease itself?

All these questions have been circulating through the media over the last few months. The situation with Ebola is certainly a complex muddle of contradictory facts, opposing interpretations, and political intrigue. It reminds me very much of the 1976 Swine flu hoax — commonly called the swine flu fiasco or the swine flu debacle. More:

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