Almost a third of patients in rehab hospitals suffer a medication error or some other type of preventable harm during their stay, according to a recent report from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
HHS had doctors review medical records of 417 randomly selected Medicare patients who stayed in U.S. rehabilitation facilities in March 2012. They concluded that nearly half of the 158 incidents they spotted among 417 patients were clearly or likely preventable.
The events ranged from a temporary injury to an adverse event that led to a longer stay at the facility, permanent disability, or death. Of those suffering an adverse event at the rehab hospital, almost a quarter had to be admitted to an acute care hospital. The researchers determined that those hospitalizations cost about $7.7 million for the month analyzed.
Most of the harm was caused by substandard treatment, inadequate monitoring, and failure to provide needed care, the physician reviewers concluded. Just under half, 46%, were related to medication errors. Many of those cases involved bleeding from gastric ulcers related to the use of blood thinners, and a loss of consciousness related to narcotic painkillers.
Forty percent of the cases were caused by a lack of proper monitoring, leading to falls, bedsores, constipation, and other problems. HHS noted that the incidence of adverse events in rehab hospitals is similar to that of acute care facilities. It recommended that the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and CMS create and disseminate a list of potential adverse events in rehab hospitals as part of an overall campaign to raise awareness.
The HHS report is available online at http://bit.ly/2a3QoAV.