Hospital-acquired conditions fall 17% over 3 years

According to the the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), hospital-acquired conditions declined by 17% (1.3 million) between 2010 and 2013, saving an estimated 50,000 lives and $12 billion in health care costs.

Adverse drug events fell by 44%, pressure ulcers by 21% and catheter-associated urinary tract infections by 14%, among other reductions.

The findings are based on the AHRQ National Scorecard, which provides summary data on the national HAC rate for measurement activities associated with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ Partnership for Patients initiative, which included more than 3,700 acute-care hospitals participating in Hospital Engagement Networks. 

Final estimates for 2013 show a further 9 percent decline in the rate of hospital-acquired conditions (HACs) from 2012 to 2013, and a 17 percent decline, from 145 to 121 HACs per 1,000 discharges, from 2010 to 2013. A cumulative total of 1.3 million fewer HACs were experienced by hospital patients over the 3 years (2011, 2012, 2013) relative to the number of HACs that would have occurred if rates had remained steady at the 2010 level. We estimate that approximately 50,000 fewer patients died in the hospital as a result of the reduction in HACs, and approximately $12 billion in health care costs were saved from 2010 to 2013.

Although the precise causes of the decline in patient harm are not fully understood, the increase in safety has occurred during a period of concerted attention by hospitals throughout the country to reduce adverse events, spurred in part by Medicare payment incentives and catalyzed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Partnership for Patients initiative led by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). 

Source: 2013 Annual Hospital-Acquired Condition Rate and Estimates of Cost Savings and Deaths Averted From 2010 to 2013. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; October 2015. AHRQ Publication No. 16-0006-EF.