Heart disease carries highest price tag

Heart disease ranks as the most expensive medical condition, according to a new study that analyzed health care costs and determined the 15 costliest health problems that year. The price tag for treating heart disease came to $58 billion, while the next most expensive condition – cancer – cost $46 billion, according to the study by Joel W. Cohen and Nancy A. Krauss at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. The next most costly conditions to treat were trauma, costing $44 billion, and mental disorders at nearly $30 billion.

New Web-based journal focuses on medical errors

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality launched a monthly peer-reviewed, Web-based medical journal that showcases patient safety lessons drawn from actual cases of medical errors. Called AHRQ WebM&M (Morbidity and Mortality Rounds on the Web), the Web-based journal (http://webmm.ahrq.gov) was developed to educate health care providers about medical errors in a blame-free environment. In hospitals across the country, clinicians routinely hold Morbidity and Mortality (M&M) conferences to discuss specific cases that raise issues regarding medical errors and quality improvement. Until now, there has been no comparable national or international forum to discuss and learn from medical errors.

Study: Hospitals misidentify cause of death up to 23 percent of the time

Autopsies continue to detect clinically important diagnostic discrepancies, according to a new evidence report released today by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Based on an analysis of more than 50 studies spanning 40 years, researchers estimate that, in U.S. hospitals in the year 2000, the correct cause of death escaped clinical detection in between 8 percent and 23 percent of cases, with as many as 4 percent to 8 percent of all deaths having a diagnostic discrepancy that may have harmed the patient. In addition to clinically missed diagnoses, up to 5 percent of autopsies disclosed clinically unsuspected complications of care.