Submitted by Dr. Gary G. Kohls MD

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By Maria Panagioti, et al – July 17, 2019 (Excerpted article: 480 words)

Full article, including author affiliations and references at: https://www.bmj.com/content/366/bmj.l4185

Objective 

To systematically quantify the prevalence, severity, and nature of preventable patient harm across a range of medical settings globally.

Introduction

Patient harm during healthcare is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality internationally.

The World Health Organization defines patient harm as “an incident that results in harm to a patient such as impairment of structure or function of the body and/or any deleterious effect arising therefrom or associated with plans or actions taken during the provision of healthcare, rather than an underlying disease or injury, and may be physical, social or psychological (eg, disease, injury, suffering, disability and death).” 

The health burden and patient experiencing healthcare-related patient harm has been reported to be comparable to chronic diseases such as multiple sclerosis and cervical cancer in developed countries, and tuberculosis and malaria in developing countries.

Harmful patient incidents are a major financial burden for healthcare systems across the globe.

It is estimated that 10-15% of healthcare expenditures are consumed by the direct sequelae of healthcare-related patient harm.

Early detection and prevention of patient harm in healthcare is an international policy priority.

In principle, zero harm would be the ideal goal. However, this goal is not feasible because some harms cannot be avoided in clinical practice.

For example, some adverse drug reactions which occur in the absence of any error in the prescription process and without the possibility of detection are less likely to be preventable.

Key sources of preventable patient harm could include the actions of healthcare professionals (errors of omission or commission), healthcare system failures, or involve a combination of errors made by individuals, system failures, and patient characteristics.

Key types of preventable harm were

  1. drug-related,
  2. diagnostic errors,
  3. medical procedure-related, and
  4. healthcare-acquired infections.

The excess length of hospital stays attributable to medical errors is estimated to be 2.4 million hospital days, which accounts for $9.3 billion excess charges in the US. More