Hospital-acquired conditions drop 8% since 2014, saving 8,000 lives and $3 billion


From 2014 to 2016, the rate of potentially deadly hospital-acquired conditions in the United States dropped by 8% – a change that translated into 350,000 fewer such conditions, 8,000 fewer inpatient deaths, and a national savings of almost $3 billion.

The preliminary new baseline rate for hospital-acquired conditions (HACs) is 90 per 1,000 discharges – down from 98 per 1,000 discharges at the end of 2014, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s new report, “AHRQ National Scorecard on Hospital-Acquired Conditions – Updated Baseline Rates and Preliminary Results 2014-2016.”

The largest improvements occurred in central line–associated bloodstream infections (down 31% from 2014), postoperative venous thromboembolism (21% decline), adverse drug events (15% decline), and pressure ulcers (10% decline). A new category, C. difficile infections, also showed a large decline over 2014 (11%).

These numbers build on earlier successes associated with a national goal set by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to reduce HACs by 20% by 2019. They should be hailed as proof that attention to prevention strategies can save lives and money, said Seema Verma, CMS administrator.

“Today’s results show that this is a tremendous accomplishment by America’s hospitals in delivering high-quality, affordable healthcare,” Ms. Verma said in a press statement. “CMS is committed to moving the healthcare system to one that improves quality and fosters innovation while reducing administrative burden and lowering costs. This work could not be accomplished without the concerted effort of our many hospital, patient, provider, private, and federal partners – all working together to ensure the best possible care by protecting patients from harm and making care safer.”

The numbers continue to go in the right direction, the report noted. Data reported in late 2016 found a 17% decline in HACs from 2010 to 2014. This equated to 2.1 million HACs, 87,000 fewer deaths, and a savings of $19.9 billion.

Much work remains to be done to achieve the stated 2019 goal, the report noted, but the rewards are great. Reaching the 20% reduction goal would secure a total decrease in the HAC rate from 98 to 78 per 1,000 discharges. This would result in 1.78 million fewer HAC in the years from 2015-2019. That decrease would ultimately save 53,000 lives and $19.1 billion over 5 years.

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