HealthGrades has released the second annual HealthGrades Patient Safety in American Hospitals Study (pdf file), released on May 2, reported that 1.18 million patient safety incidents occurred among Medicare hospitalizations between 2001 and 2003, up from 1.14 million incidents between 2000 and 2002.

One significant finding showed a 20 percent increase in the incidence of hospital-acquired infections, which resulted in 9,552 deaths in the three-year period. These accounted for 30 percent of the costs of patient safety incidents—a total of nearly $3 billion annually.

I've highlighted ways to reduce infection before.

“The reason we see the hospitals with the lowest incident rates improving the fastest is that they have what I call a ‘culture of safety,'”  Samantha [Collier, M.D., vice president of medical affairs for HealthGrades] said. “A ‘culture of safety’ requires rapid identification of errors and root causes and the successful implementation of improvement strategies, which can only be achieved with strong leadership, critical thinking and commitment to excellence.”