Medical errors are a serious problem in the healthcare industry, costing anywhere between $17 and $29 billion annually and even ranking as the third-highest cause of death, according to some estimates. Errors come in many forms, such as misdiagnosis, patient misidentification, and poor sterilization procedures. One classification of error, known as misadventure, has its own set of ICD-9 diagnosis codes, and is defined as harm from or adverse reactions to medical treatment. The codes, which range from E870 to E876, cover accidental cuts, foreign objects left in body, failures to sterilize, dosage errors, instrument failures, blood or drug contamination, and other causes. The following list identifies the top 20 hospitals with the highest estimated number* of combined diagnoses of misadventures in 2015.
The overall number of hospitals with diagnoses in any of the relevant ICD-9 codes was quite small, totaling slightly less than 200, according to Definitive Healthcare data. The facilities with the highest estimated diagnoses tended to be large hospitals with significant patient volumes, as would be expected when measuring the absolute number of diagnoses. They also had far more estimated inpatient surgeries than the national median of 914. Most of the ICD-9 codes deal with errors that are more likely to or can only occur during surgical procedures. Interestingly, the rate of serious complications does not clearly correspond to a facility’s number of misadventure diagnoses, though all but six have higher serious complication rates than the national median. The most likely explanation is that the number of complications covered through the ICD-9 codes only slightly contributes to a hospital’s overall rate.