Context: Although medical injuries are recognized as a major hazard in the health care system, little is known about their impact.
Objective: To assess excess length of stay, charges, and deaths attributable to medical injuries during hospitalization.
Design, setting, and patients: The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) Patient Safety Indicators (PSIs) were used to identify medical injuries in 7.45 million hospital discharge abstracts from 994 acute-care hospitals across 28 states in 2000 in the AHRQ Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project Nationwide Inpatient Sample database.
Main outcome measures: Length of stay, charges, and mortality that were recorded in hospital discharge abstracts and were attributable to medical injuries according to 18 PSIs.
Results: Excess length of stay attributable to medical injuries ranged from 0 days for injury to a neonate to 10.89 days for postoperative sepsis, excess charges ranged from 0 dollar for obstetric trauma (without vaginal instrumentation) to 57 727 dollars for postoperative sepsis, and excess mortality ranged from 0% for obstetric trauma to 21.96% for postoperative sepsis (P<.001). Following postoperative sepsis, the second most serious event was postoperative wound dehiscence, with 9.42 extra days in the hospital, 40 323 dollars in excess charges, and 9.63% attributable mortality. Infection due to medical care was associated with 9.58 extra days, 38 656 dollars in excess charges, and 4.31% attributable mortality.
Conclusion: Some injuries incurred during hospitalization pose a significant threat to patients and costs to society, but the impact of such injury is highly variable.