CDC Report: Deaths From Complications In Sharp Decline

By  //  September 27, 2012

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In November of 1999, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released a compelling report called To Err is Human: Building a Safer Health System to the national media, which recognized this opportunity for a headline story describing a very large number of hospital deaths from medical errors and complications—possibly as great as 98,000 per year.

Those of us in the healthcare industry were incredulous and put on the defensive.  However, as we threw ourselves into a much deeper analytic dive into who or what was to blame and how to fix the problem, it became increasingly clear that preventable harm was not a property of health care professionals’ competence, good intentions, or hard work, but rather a property of a system of care in which specific attention must be given to ensuring that well-designed practice and processes of care prevent adverse medical events and complications so that patients are not harmed.

The healthcare industry has spent the past thirteen years focused on transforming care models and hospital cultures, and is making significant strides to decrease preventable complications like catheter associated blood stream infections, catheter associated urinary tract infections, venous embolic complications and surgical site infections.

There is also very good news in a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that suggests that deaths from complications have declined significantly over the last decade. Rates of death from complications of medical and surgical care declined from 1999 to 2009 among all age groups for persons aged ≥45 years. Deaths per 100,000 population declined 39%, to 71.3 deaths for adults aged ≥85 years; 37%, to 51.4 deaths for those aged 75–84 years; 38%, to 27.9 deaths for adults aged 65–74 years; and 28%, to 8.9 deaths for adults aged 45–64 years rates. The report, is part of CDC’s National Vital Statistics System .

Quick Stats: Death Rate From Complications of Medical and Surgical Care Among Adults Aged ≥45 Years, by Age Group — United States, 1999–2009
Description: Description: The figure shows death rates from complications of medical and surgical care among adults aged ≥45 years, by age group in the United States during 1999-2009. During that period, rates of death from complications of medical and surgical care declined among all age groups for persons aged ≥45 years. Deaths per 100,000 population declined 39%, to 71.3 deaths for adults aged ≥85 years; 37%, to 51.4 deaths for those aged 75-84 years; 38%, to 27.9 deaths for adults aged 65-74 years; and 28%, to 8.9 deaths for adults aged 45-64 years rates. The rate of decline among adults aged 45-64 years was lower compared with the rates of decline for all older age groups.

Major U.S. and international healthcare quality improvement organizations, such as the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), the National Quality Forum (NQF), the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), the Health and Human Services Partnership for Patients, and the World Health Organization (WHO), just to name a few, continue ongoing quality and safety efforts in close collaboration with hospitals across the country to make healthcare safer and less costly by targeting and reducing preventable injuries and complications from healthcare acquired conditions.


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