Surveys Finds That Americans are Concerned About Hospital-Based Medical and Surgical Errors

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Hospital-based medication, surgical and diagnostic errors are of concern to most Americans, according to the results of a new Harris Interactive poll of 2,847 U.S. adults conducted online July 8-12, 2004 for The Wall Street Journal Online's Health Industry Edition.


Three in five Americans (63 percent) are "extremely concerned" (39 percent) or "very concerned" (24 percent) about hospital-based medication errors, such as receiving the

wrong medication or the wrong dose, and 55 percent are concerned about hospital-based

surgical errors that might include incorrect amputations or mistaken patient  identities 39 percent are "extremely concerned" and 16 percent are "very concerned."


The public is only moderately confident about the ability of U.S.

hospitals to prevent these types of errors.


-- While one in three adults believe hospitals do an "excellent" or

      "very good" job preventing medication errors, nearly equal proportions

      (28 percent) believe hospitals do a "fair" or "poor" job.


-- Likewise, one in three adults (30 percent) believe that hospitals do an

      "excellent" or "very good" job preventing diagnostic errors, but an


      equally large proportion believes they do a "fair" or "poor" job (29 percent)


-- The public is somewhat more confident about hospitals' abilities when it

      comes to preventing surgical errors; 42 percent believe they do an "excellent"

      or "very good" job.


New procedures instituted in July to prevent surgical errors include

double-checking patients' identities and using standardized procedures for

marking patients' bodies in preparation for surgery. Most Americans think

these new procedures will be effective 15 percent "extremely effective," 43 percent "very effective," and 36 percent "somewhat effective" in preventing future errors.


"These findings suggest that efforts by the Institute of Medicine and

others to increase public awareness of patient safety issues are hitting home

with the American public, says Katherine Binns, senior vice president of

healthcare at Harris Interactive. Public concern about medical, surgical and

diagnostic errors is high; and many have doubts about the ability of our

medical institutions to prevent these types of errors. On the bright side,

most adults are also confident that initiatives like the recently enacted

hospital standards to help prevent surgical errors will prove to be effective

in advancing patient safety."


Source: Harris Interactive