Support Marketplace

Hospital errors are costing $17 billion a year

A doctor cares for a patient at a hospital in Panorama City, Calif.

Steve Chiotakis: There's a study out today in the journal Health Affairs that finds the rate of hospital errors is ten times what's been measured in the past. And a third of all admissions lead to a complication caused by medical care.

Marketplace's Mitchell Hartman reports, it's a multi-billion-dollar problem.


Mitchell Hartman: Dr. David Classen is at the University of Utah. His team analyzed individual patient records at three large hospitals, looking for medical mistakes.

David Classen: These are significant events, because it's not: 'They gave me a pill and I got a stomach ache. They gave me a pill and I started throwing up blood and they had to treat me.

It's a more rigorous method than most hospitals use -- they typically rely on voluntary reporting by medical staff, or on insurance claims.

Dr. John Santa of Consumer Reports says the problem costs at least $17 billion a year.

John Santa: We have an expensive system, and increasingly we know it's expensive because there's many mistakes.

According to another study in Health Affairs, the most expensive hospital-caused complications come from incorrect medication, post-operative infections and bedsores.

I'm Mitchell Hartman for Marketplace.

About the author

Mitchell Hartman is the senior reporter for Marketplace’s Entrepreneurship Desk and also covers employment.

Comments

I agree to American Public Media's Terms and Conditions.
With Generous Support From...