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50+: Live Better, Longer

1 in 5 Elderly Patients Injured by Medical Care

Sickest patients at greatest risk, researchers say
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Each additional month of age was associated with a 1 percent increase in the risk of a medical injury. In addition, the risk of experiencing an adverse medical event increased by 27 percent for each chronic condition a person had, the report revealed.

The death rate among those who had experienced a medical injury was nearly twice as high as among patients who hadn't had one, Carter said.

The consequences of these injuries were lasting. "We are seeing increased health care costs over a year following the injury with the greater use of medical services," said Carter.

Dr. David Katz is director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center and president of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine. He said: "We have long known that medical care, while pledged to avoid harm above all, actually imposes quite a bit of it. Medical injury is all too common, and adverse effects of treatment are common, even in the absence of error."

But, he added, a process of continuous assessment and systems-level reform is needed to reduce medical errors to the minimum.

"There is also need to cultivate more health by living well," he said. "Medical injuries occurred in the context of treatment, and were more common with more serious conditions. That older patients with several chronic diseases and on multiple medications are more prone to adverse medical events is less than shocking."

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