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The Nature and Extent of Medical Injury in Older Patients

Medical treatment-related injuries occur among patients in all age groups, but are substantially more common in older patients. In this AARP Public Policy Institute Issue Paper, Jeffery Rothschild of Harvard School of Medicine and Lucian Leape of Harvard School of Public Health examine medical injury among patients age 65 and older, and find that:

  • At least 6% of age 65+ hospitalized patients suffer an injury or complication serious enough to result in a measurable disability or to prolong their hospital stay. That is approximately twice the rate of injury in younger patients.
  • Medical injuries in other care settings, such as nursing homes, are also quite widespread, and the risk increases with advancing age, particularly for falls and surgical complications.
  • Approximately two-thirds of such injuries are potentially preventable. (83 pages)

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