Between Oct. 1, 2008 and June 30, 2010, Medicare patients at St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Yonkers, N.Y., suffered thirteen instances of severe bed sores during their stay requiring additional treatment, a rate of nearly 2.9 per 1,000 treated. At St. John’s Riverside Hospital, three miles down Broadway from St. Joseph’s, the rate was 20 times lower: only one severe bed sore was reported, even though St. John's discharged far more Medicare patients during that period -- 8,270 to St. Joseph's 4,541.
Over the protests of groups like the American Hospital Association, Medicare officials this month publicly revealed for the first time where harmful events like these took place. In addition to bed sores, the data includes information on trauma and falls, infections and the egregious errors known as "never events," such as patients being given the wrong blood type, or foreign objects being left in the body after surgery.
As many as 98,000 Americans are thought to die annually from medical errors, and about as many succumb to infections they picked up during a hospital stay, according to oft-cited figures released a decade ago, but new research published last week suggests that "adverse events" like these occur about 10 times as frequently as previously thought, in about a third of all hospital stays.