Adverse events in older adults are underreported in hospitals, report says

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Adverse events for Medicare beneficiaries are underreported in hospitals, where incident reporting systems only capture about 14% of errors, according to a government report released Friday.

While most hospitals have systems that alert managers and administrators to errors, problems that plague the elderly, such as bedsores, infections and delirium, are often not reported, says Daniel R. Levinson, inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services. Those types of errors often follow seniors to nursing homes. When errors are found, it's usually by nurses who identified mistakes “through the regular course of care,” according to the report.

To improve error reporting and corrective action, the report recommends that healthcare oversight agencies, including the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, collaborate to provide guidance and incentives for hospitals to maximize their use of reporting systems.

To read the full report, click here.

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