Last December, the administration announced
that Obamacare programs to improve hospital safety have resulted in 50,000 fewer preventable deaths since 2010. Because good news on Obamacare travels very slowly, the report didn't get a lot of attention. Not until President Obama included
that news in his speech marking the fifth anniversary of Obamacare's signing. That warranted enough attention for the Washington Post's
fact checker to get around to fact checking, and it turns out that, yeah, it's true
, and in fact, might be actually understated
Largely relying on more than 30,000 medical records, the study looked at how many fewer patient-related problems had taken place in hospitals—the study calculated 1.3 million fewer incidents over three years—and then used that to determine how many lives might have been saved. In general, the researchers used mortality estimates from other research.
For instance, pressure ulcers, which result from a lack of blood flow to the skin because of sustained pressure, are estimated to result in additional 72 deaths per 1,000; meanwhile, adverse drug events result in an additional 20 deaths per 1,000. Higher costs are involved, too, with estimated of $17,000 for each pressure ulcer and $5,000 for drug events. So overall the study estimates $12 billion in health care costs were saved in addition to the 50,000 lives. […]
The numbers might seem large, but the research seems solid, according to experts we consulted, and it is based on a review of an extensive database. The results likely reflect work that predated the ACA but at the same time the ACA has spurred even greater cooperation among hospitals. Since the president is using a figure more than a year old, it is likely understated—unless, of course, the interim number for 2013 turns out to be overstated.
Thus, President Obama gets the "elusive Geppetto Checkmark," meaning totally true, which seems to come as rather a surprise to Kessler. Probably because he's usually fact checking Republicans on Obamacare and thus used to issuing "Pinocchios"—the cutesy scale by which he judges falsehoods—when it comes to the law. There can be factual statements made about the law, even when those facts point out that the law is doing great good.