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The harm to hospitalised patients cost Ontarians more than $1 billion a year

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A new study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal has found that patients who suffered harm after being admitted in an Ontario hospital took longer to recover, spent more time in hospital, and required more healthcare to undo or mitigate the harm.

Tessier et al. studied the records of 610,979 patients admitted to Ontario hospitals over a one-year period ending in March 2016. Overall, 36,004 or six per cent of the patients were harmed during their hospital stay. As part of the study, the researchers categorised the kinds of harms experienced by patients. Just over half suffered harm due improper treatment. This included failing to make the correct diagnosis or making an incorrect diagnosis that led to incorrect treatment and harm caused by medications. 

The second biggest category (37%) was harm caused by an infection acquired during the hospital stay. The third leading cause (27.3%) was harm caused by a procedure, and the fourth (2.7%) was harm brought on by accidents such as falling off a hospital stretcher.

The current study is one of the first to use a new method that enables researchers to capture all of the care the patient received during their stay in hospital and following discharge from hospital, including home care.

In a commentary published alongside the study, Dr. Lauren Lapointe-Shaw and Dr. Chaim Bell wrote that reported rates of adverse events are widely considered to be the proverbial "tip of the iceberg."

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Source: CBC Radio Canada. 12 August 2019

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