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HHS: Hospital-Acquired Conditions Declined by 17 Percent in Last Three Years

December 3, 2014
by Rajiv Leventhal
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A recent Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) report found that with the aid of health IT,  a reduction in hospital-acquired conditions from 2010 to 2013 led to approximately 50,000 fewer patients died in hospitals and $12 billion saved in healthcare costs.

HHS’ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) analyzed the incidence of a number of avoidable hospital-acquired conditions compared to 2010 rates and used as a baseline estimate of deaths and excess healthcare costs that were developed when the Partnership for Patients— which targets a specific set of hospital-acquired conditions for reductions— was launched. The results update the data showing improvement for 2012 that were released in May.

Preliminary estimates show that in total, hospital patients experienced 1.3 million fewer hospital-acquired conditions from 2010 to 2013.  This translates to a 17 percent decline in hospital-acquired conditions over the three-year period. What’s more, in 2013 alone, almost 35,000 fewer patients died in hospitals, and approximately 800,000 fewer incidents of harm occurred, saving approximately $8 billion.

“Today’s results are welcome news for patients and their families,” HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell said in a news release statement. “These data represent significant progress in improving the quality of care that patients receive while spending our healthcare dollars more wisely.  HHS will work with partners across the country to continue to build on this progress.”

In 2011, HHS set a goal of improving patient safety through the Partnership for Patients. Public and private partners are working collaboratively—including hospitals and other healthcare providers—to identify and spread best practices and solutions to reduce hospital-acquired conditions and readmissions, HHS officials say.

AHRQ has produced a variety of tools and resources to help hospitals and other providers prevent hospital-acquired conditions, such as reducing infections, pressure ulcers, and falls. “AHRQ has developed the evidence base and many of the tools that hospitals have used to achieve this dramatic decline in patient harms,” AHRQ director Richard Kronick, Ph.D., said in a statement. “Additionally, AHRQ’s work in measuring adverse events, performed as part of the Partnership for Patients, made it possible to track the rate of change in these harms nationwide and chart the progress being made.”

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