Approximately 87,000 fewer patients died in the hospital as a result of the reduction in hospital-acquired conditions from 2010 to 2014, according to a new report by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

For every 1,000 patients admitted to and then discharged from a hospital in 2014, AHRQ found that 121 of them developed a hospital-acquired condition. This is a 17% reduction from 2010, when the number was about 145 per 1,000 patients.

Hospital-acquired conditions include adverse drug events, central line bloodstream infections, catheter-associated urinary tract infections, pressure ulcers, ventilator-associated pneumonia, surgical site infections, obstetric adverse events, and post-op venous thromboembolism.

One of the goals of the Affordable Care Act was to reduce errors and reward hospitals that provide better care. For example, Medicare pays less to hospitals with high rates of readmissions, hospital-acquired infections, and injury. According to the AHRQ report, it was not just hospital-acquired conditions that were reduced, but costs as well. The report showed that about $19.8 billion in health care costs were saved between 2010 and 2014 as a result of the reduction in hospital-acquired conditions.

The authors of the report write that “Despite the progress to date in reducing [hospital-acquired conditions], much work remains to be done to ensure that the U.S. health care system is as safe as it can possibly be. The interim for 2014 is 17% less than 2010, but it is also unchanged from 2013. HHS and other public and private partners are continuing to work to improve patient safety. These data from 2013 and 2014 indicate that it is possible to make substantial progress in reducing virtually all types of HACs simultaneously. CMS and HHS leaders have termed this objective as achieving ‘Safety Across the Board’ and believe it should be a national goal.”

References

  1. Saving Lives and Saving Money: Hospital-Acquired Conditions Update. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality website. http://www.ahrq.gov/professionals/quality-patient-safety/pfp/interimhacrate2014.html?utm_source=HHSPressRelease65&utm_medium=HHSPressRelease&utm_term=HAC&utm_content=65&utm_campaign=CUSP4CAUTI2015. Published December 2015. Accessed December 22, 2015.
  2. Cohn J. Fewer Patients Have Been Dying From Hospital Errors Since Obamacare Started. Huffpost Politics. December 1, 2015. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/patient-safety-obamacare_565dcb8ce4b072e9d1c34a57. Accessed December 22, 2015.