Health care accidents cost $6.9 billion

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Golden-based Health Grades only awarded one Colorado hospital with its coveted patient safety excellence award.

Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins earned the award for 2009 as one of only 242 hospitals nationwide that met patient safety criteria among Medicare paitents among 5,000 hospitals in the United States.

The data is important, said spokesman Scott Shapiro, because if all hospitals performed at the level of the top hospitals, about 211,700 patient safety events and 22,771 Medicare deaths could have been avoided – and the United States could have saved $2 billion during 2005-07.

“Patient safety incidents are one of the leading causes of death in the U.S.,” said Ricky May, co-author of the Health Grades study. “The sad fact is that many, if not most, of these errors are preventable. Patients should not die or experience unnecessary harm as a result of medical errors in hospitals.”

Other developments from the study:

Patients treated at top-performing hospitals had, on average, a 43 percent lower chance of experiencing one or more medical errors.

Between 2005 and 2007, there were 913,215 patient safety events.

Between 2005 and 2007, these patient safety events were associated with more than $6.9 billion of wasted health care costs.