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Top 10 Most Costly, Frequent Medical Errors

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, August 11, 2010

They are in order: pressure ulcer, postoperative infection, postlaminectomy syndrome, hemorrhage complicating a procedure, accidental puncture or laceration during a procedure, mechanical complication of device, implant or graft, ventral hernia without mention of obstruction or gangrene, hematoma complicating a procedure, unspecified adverse effect of a drug medicinal and

biological substance not elsewhere classified and mechanical complication of cardiac device, implant or graft.

 

As health providers struggle to find ways to minimize costs of care, they also are paying attention to preventing the most costly errors. This report listed 10 errors that are most costly on a per error basis, although they may not necessarily occur as often. 

They most expensive errors on a per-error basis are as follows:

    1. Postoperative shock—$93,682.
    2. Infection due to central venous catheter—$83,365.
    3. Infection following infusion, injection, transfusion or vaccination—$78,083.
    4. Gastrostomy complications, infection—$66,765.

    5. Complications of transplanted organ—$66,658.
    6. Infection and inflammatory reaction due to internal prosthetic device, implant and graft—$62,265.
    7. Tracheostomy complications—$56,479.
    8. Gastrostomy complications, mechanical—$55,219.
    9. Infusion or transfusion reaction—$51,686.
    10. Gastrostomy complications—$49,115.

Cheryl Clark is senior quality editor and California correspondent for HealthLeaders Media. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists.
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2 comments on "Top 10 Most Costly, Frequent Medical Errors"


William J. Walsh (12/20/2010 at 11:32 AM)
I agree - most of these are bad outcome data with a presumption of an error behind it. For example: 1. Postoperative shock - if the patient had trauma prior to surgery, or the patient had a large surgery (lung, heart, liver transplant, CABG), it may be expected to have shock postoperatively. 2. Infection due to central venous catheter. These really should be mostly avoidable. 5.Complications of transplanted organ[INVALID] how is this due to error? Inexact science and error are not the same thing. 9. Infusion or transfusion reaction[INVALID] if this is all due to mismatched product, ok... but otherwise TRALI is not predictable. The gastric bipass complication rate seems to be 4 of the 10 high risk complications... why not list this as one item?

gzuckier (12/9/2010 at 10:01 AM)
Eh? Most of these are neither errors, nor avoidable; unless there is quite a bit more in the study than is being represented here.