Efforts to reduce medical errors have made progress over the last decade, according to new research published by the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). The authors of the Chartbook on Patient Safety found that medical malpractice payment reports, one of the metrics used to identify errors, dropped 28% between 2004 and 2014.
Overall, researchers noted a downward trend for each year but 2013, when reports increased slightly. About 80% of the payments related to treatment, diagnostic, and surgical errors. Patient care also did better over the same period, the report found, with an improvement of approximately 60% of patient safety measures.
Race-based disparities in certain types of care also fell over time, including the gap between black and white patients for postoperative respiratory failure and the gap between low- and high-income pediatric patients for admissions with accidental puncture or laceration during the procedure. The difference in care between Hispanic and non-Hispanic white patients for adult postoperative catheter-associated urinary tract infections was completely eliminated.
The full report is available on the AHRQ website.