Avoidable hospital deaths are on the decline, according to recent estimates from the Leapfrog Group for Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. The report estimated 161,250 avoidable deaths annually, down from 206,000 deaths in the group’s 2016 analysis.
The report looked at a subset of potential harms in hospitals that patients encounter, meaning the findings are likely an understatement. Other studies have estimated annual avoidable patient deaths in hospitals range from 44,000 to 440,000, and medical error recently was marked as a top cause of death in the United States.
The changes reflect improvements made in hospitals to boost patient safety. However, “elimination of all preventable harms remains elusive,” the report reads.
The researchers also estimated that another 50,000 lives could be saved if hospitals with safety performance ratings of “B,” “C,” “D,” and “F” met the same performance as “A” hospitals. That’s an increase from the 2016 analysis, which estimated that 33,000 lives could be saved by increased safety performance by hospitals with ratings lower that “A.” According to researchers, this underscores that higher rated hospitals are improving safety performance at a faster rate than hospitals in other grade categories.
See the full report here.