Decline in Hospital Acquired Conditions

According to a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services report, the number of hospital-acquired conditions (HACs) declined by 17% between 2010 and 2013, which translates into saving more than 50,000 lives. The report, which measured the success of hospitals in reducing avoidable patient deaths, also found there were 1.3 million fewer harms experienced by patients. In addition to saving lives, the decline resulted in savings to hospitals of approximately $12 billion.

The HACs which the report examined included surgical infections, adverse drug events, catheter-associated urinary tract infections, central line-associated bloodstream infections, pressure ulcers and falls. The most significant contributors to the savings were:

  • A reduction in pressure ulcers, which is associated with an excess mortality rate of 72 deaths per 1,000 and excess costs of $17,000 per case
  • A reduction in adverse drug events, which is associated with an excess mortality rate of 20 deaths per 1,000 and excess costs of $5,000 per case

Factors thought to contribute to the decline in HACs include:

The Affordable Care Act which includes Medicare reimbursement incentives to improve quality as well as penalties for hospitals that re-admit patients within 30 days due to errors and hospital-acquired infections. Click here to read more.

  1.  Health and Human Services’ Partnership for Patients (PfP), a public-private partnership that includes HHS and nearly 3,700 hospitals as well as physician practices and other patient organizations, whose goals are to improve safety in acute care hospitals and better coordination of care at discharge to prevent admissions.
  2.  Implementation of health IT tools such as clinical decision support, electronic health records and predictive analytics.  These tools provide an infrastructure enabling health information exchange and evidence-based clinical decision making which has helped make hospital stays less risky.

Although the decline is impressive it’s still too high according to HHS. The 2013 HAC rate of 121 HACs per 1,000 discharges means that almost 10 percent (click here for factors included in this calculation) of hospitalized patients experienced one or more of the HACs that were measured.

We’d love to hear your views about the effects of hospital-acquired conditions and what more you feel should be done.

Read more coverage of this topic:

MedPage Today


The Washington Post

EHR Intelligence

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