- Roughly three in 10 Medicare patients in rehabilitation hospitals suffered some kind of harm related to the care they received, a new report by the HHS Office of Inspector General concludes.
- Most of the incidents involved medication and patient care, such as bedsores and falls and only 15% were due to infections.
- Of 158 incidents identified in 417 patients, nearly half could have been prevented, the report says.
The study, which focuses on independent rehab facilities, follows earlier studies of care-related harm at acute care hospitals and skilled nursing facilities. In this case, nearly one-quarter of the patients who suffered some type of harm required treatment in an acute-care facility — at a cost to Medicare of at least $7.7 million for beneficiaries with stays in rehab hospitals ending in March 2012.
“It’s important to acknowledge that harm can occur in any type of inpatient setting,” Amy Ashcraft, a team leader on the study, told ProPublica. “This is one of the settings that’s most likely to be underestimated in terms of what type of harm can
Of the 158 incidents uncovered in the analysis, 10% were deemed adverse events, meaning they prolonged the patient’s rehab stay or caused permanent harm or other serious effects, and 18% caused temporary harm.
OIG estimates that 1,271 post-acute Medicare rehab hospital patients experienced at least one adverse event during their stay and 2,247 suffered temporary harm. Less than 1% of patients died as a result of problem care while in the rehab facility.
Common reasons for preventable events included providing the appropriate treatment in a substandard way and failing to monitor the patient’s progress adequately.
To reduce harm, the report calls for CMS and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality to come up with a list of rehab hospital-related adverse events. The agencies have agreed to do so.