News / Health

Study: Poor Hospital Care Harms 40 Million Worldwide

Surgeons of the general and visceral surgery at the Asklepios Hospital Hamburg-Barmbek, open the abdominal wall of a patient during liver surgery, Aug. 15, 2013.
Surgeons of the general and visceral surgery at the Asklepios Hospital Hamburg-Barmbek, open the abdominal wall of a patient during liver surgery, Aug. 15, 2013.
Jessica Berman
A new study has found that more than 40 million people worldwide are harmed by poor hospital care each year.  Researchers said most of the unsafe medical care occurs in low- and moderate-income countries.

Researchers poured over data contained in 4,000 studies looking for instances of substandard hospital care around the world.

Ashish Jha, a professor of health policy at Harvard University School of Public Health in Boston, helped lead the study. “Well, you know, we’ve had suspicion for some time that unsafe care, medical errors, adverse events, bad things that happen to patients when they go to the hospital, are a substantial problem,” he stated.

Jha and colleagues from the World Health Organization in Geneva and RTI International in Durham, North Carolina, found that almost 26 million cases of unsafe medical care occur in hospitals in developing countries. The remaining 16.8 million instances of harm occur in the West.  

The researchers also measured the number of days of life lost to death or disability due to poor hospital care, finding that twice as many of those days occur in low- and moderate income nations compared to Western countries.

The leading cause of injury in hospitals in lower income countries were blood clots, because patients did not move around enough during extended stays.

Other causes of harm include urinary tract infections, blood stream infections, falls and bedsores.

Medication errors accounted for most of the substandard care in the West.

Jha said it’s not that hospital training in less developed nations is inferior to schools elsewhere in the world.  Rather, he thinks it’s an issue of delivering safe care. “You know, health care has become more complex.  It’s become more dangerous.  Medications have more side effects. There are very sick people in the hospital who have infections, and most organizations throughout the world are just not paying attention to these issues,” he said.

Jha said there’s only so much the families of patients can do to ensure the safety of their loved ones, so the ultimate responsibility rests with the hospital facilities themselves.  But he and his colleagues call for policymakers to focus on improving the quality and safety of healthcare systems, as well as increasing access to care.

An article on unsafe medical care in hospitals around the world is published in the journal BMJ Quality & Safety.

You May Like

Australia Knights Prince Philip, Sparking National Outrage

Abbott's surprise reintroduction of knights and dames in the country's honors system last year drew criticism that he was out of touch with national sentiment More

SAG Award Boosts 'Birdman' Oscar Hopes

Individual acting Oscars appear to be sewn up: SAG awards went to artists who won Golden Globes: Julianne Moore, Eddie Redmayne, Patricia Arquette, J.K. Simmons More

Katy Perry Lights Way for Super Bowl's Girl Power Moment

Pop star's selection to headline US football championship's halftime show extends NFL's trend of selecting artists who appeal to younger viewers More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sidesi
X
June Soh
January 23, 2015 10:03 PM
The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid