Las Vegas Sun

October 21, 2014

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Do No Harm: Hospital Care in Las Vegas:

Overview of the Sun’s series on health care

The Las Vegas Sun has spent more than two years examining hospital care in Las Vegas, mining a treasure trove of data that until now had never been publicly analyzed — 2.9 million hospital billing records on file with the state.

Using that data, the Sun has in a series of articles over the past five months examined injuries, infections and surgical mishaps suffered by patients here.

Augmenting that information with interviews with more than 200 patients, doctors, nurses, hospital executive and other experts, the series has yielded the most in-depth examination of hospital care in Las Vegas to date.

The Sun found that over a two-year period — 2008 and 2009 — Las Vegas patients suffered preventable injuries, life-threatening infections or other harm 969 times during their hospital stays.

The newspaper then documented the proliferation of drug-resistant “superbugs” in hospitals here. The newspaper reported that in 2008 and 2009, patients were infected with bacteria in area hospitals 2,010 times. Two hundred thirty-nine died — although it’s impossible to tell from hospital billing records how or whether the infections factored in the patients’ deaths.

Most recently, the Sun’s analysis revealed 710 accidental punctures or lacerations that occurred during surgeries.

Today, the newspaper explores the causes of these problems.

In the wake of the Sun’s investigation and its call for greater transparency, St. Rose Dominican Hospitals have posted quality information on their websites, including infection rates and instances of patients being injured while in their care. University Medical Center promises to do the same. Lawmakers say they will propose reform legislation when they meet next year.

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