Potentially preventable medical errors that occur during or after surgery may cost employers nearly $1.5 billion a year, according to new estimates by the Department of Health & Human Services' (HHS) Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).
In a study published in the July 28 issue of the journal Health Services Research, AHRQ's William E. Encinosa, Ph.D., and Fred J. Hellinger, Ph.D., found that insurers paid an additional $28,218 (52 percent more) and an additional $19,480 (48 percent more) for surgery patients who experienced acute respiratory failure or post-operative infections, respectively, compared with patients who did not experience either error.
The authors also found these additional costs for surgery patients who experienced the following medical errors compared with those who did not:
- Nursing care associated with medical errors, including pressure ulcers and hip fractures—$12,196 (33 percent more).
- Metabolic problems associated with medical errors, including kidney failure or uncontrolled blood sugar—$11,797 (32 percent more).
- Blood clots or other vascular or pulmonary problems associated with medical errors—$7,838 (25 percent more).
- Wound opening associated with medical errors—$1,426 (6 percent more).
See press release for more details.