17,000 die in Germany from medical errors

March 5, 2010 at 10:44 PM

DUSSELDORF, Germany, March 5 (UPI) -- About 17,000 deaths per year in Germany are due to preventable medical errors, a patient safety non-profit group estimates.

A report by the German Coalition for Patient Safety says adverse medical events include all harms occurring during patient care that are not due to the underlying disease. In other words, the medical treatment for both inpatient and outpatient care can make a patient ill, the report says.

For example with inpatients, shift work in hospitals necessitates complex organization of the work and numerous planning and communication processes and information may get lost at each interface, the report says.

In addition, hand hygiene is not always optimal -- lack of hand washing can cause infections. Errors in providing medication also occur.

With outpatients, errors in diagnosis are possible, monitoring is more difficult and there is no common patient file for all physicians involved, the report says.

The findings are published in the Deutsches Arzteblatt International.

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