Money Matters - Simplified

Hospitals pose more danger than flying

In the United States, 100,000 out of 1.7 million patients die from hospital acquired infection.

Hospital visits could me more risky than flying. Hospital errors and hospital acquired infections are more likely to kill a person than a flying, says the World Health Organization (WHO).

The chances of dying from a health care error is 1 in 300, whereas the chances of dying from a plane crash is 1 in 10 million, stated Liam Donaldson, WHO’s envoy for patient safety, in news briefing.

Donaldson said, "If you were admitted to hospital tomorrow in any country... your chances of being subjected to an error in your care would be something like 1 in 10. Your chances of dying due to an error in health care would be 1 in 300."

"It shows that health care generally worldwide still has a long way to go," he added.

According to WHO, out of every 100 hospitalized patients, seven in developed countries and 10 in developing countries are likely acquire at least one health care related infection.

WHO stated, "The longer patients stay in an intensive care unit (ICU), the more at risk they become of acquiring an infection."

Devices like, urinary catheters and ventilators are linked with high infection rates.

"Health care is a high-risk business, inevitably, because people are sick and modern health care is delivered in a fast-moving, high-pressured environment involving a lot of complex technology and a lot of people." -- Liam Donaldson, WHO’s envoy for patient safety.

Infections are a big problem – WHO
In the United States, 100,000 out of 1.7 million patients die from hospital acquired infection, compared with 37,000 deaths out of 4.5 million infections from hospital in Europe, said WHO.

Donaldson said, "Health care is a high-risk business, inevitably, because people are sick and modern health care is delivered in a fast-moving, high-pressured environment involving a lot of complex technology and a lot of people."

"Infection is a big problem, injuries after falls in hospitals is a big problem and then there are problems that are on a smaller scale but result in preventable deaths. Medication errors are common."

Higher risk in developing countries
Dr. Benedetta Allegranzi from WHO's "Clean Care is Safer Care" programme said, "The risk is really higher in high-risk areas of the hospitals, in particular ICUs or neonatal units in developing countries."

WHO said, about 100,000 hospitals worldwide follow WHO’s surgical safety checklist, which led to a decline in surgery complications by 33 percent and death by 50 percent. About 500,000 more deaths could be prevented if the checklist is elsewhere too.

Donaldson stated, "Frankly, if I was having an operation tomorrow I wouldn't go into a hospital that wasn't using the checklist because I wouldn't regard it as safe."