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

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid