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Improving the assessment and reporting standards of preventability in future studies is critical for reducing patient harm in medical care settings."
- Dr Maria Panagioti

Research funded by the SPCR (Evidence Synthesis Working Group) and led by Dr Maria Panagioti from the NIHR Greater Manchester Patient Safety Translational Research Centre, measured the prevalence of preventable patient harm across a range of medical settings, including hospitals and in primary care. 

They found that around one in 20 (6%) of patients are affected by preventable harm in medical care. The study, published by The BMJ, also found around 12% of those cases cause permanent disability or death.

Most preventable harm relates to drug incidents and invasive procedures and it is more common in surgical and intensive care units than in general hospitals. Preventable harm also costs an estimated $9.3bn in the US and the equivalent to over 3500 hospital nurses in England each year.

The researchers say strategies targeting preventable patient harm could lead to major improvements in medical care and considerable cost savings for healthcare systems across the globe.

Preventable patient harm is a serious problem across medical care settings globally, and early detection and prevention is an international policy priority. Several previous reviews have examined overall patient harm across different settings, but none have focused on preventable patient harm.

Read the press release from the University of Manchester.

Read the editorial in BMJ