The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) issued preliminary estimates for hospital-acquired conditions (HACs) for 2014, noting a 17 percent decline since 2010. This translates to a cumulative total of 2.1 million fewer HACs for hospital patients from 2011 through 2014.
AHRQ estimated that nearly 87,000 fewer patients died in the hospital as a result of the reduction in HAQs during the four-year period, saving approximately $19.8 billion in healthcare costs.
AHRQ admits that the exact cause of the decline is “not fully understood,” but notes the increase in safety has occurred “during a period of concerted attention by hospitals” throughout the country to reduce adverse events as part of the Affordable Care Act including Medicare payment incentives. Additional possible causes noted in the report include:
- Public reporting of hospital-level results
- Technical assistance offered by the QIO program to hospitals
- Technical assistance and catalytic efforts of the Department of Health and Human Services Partnership for Patients initiative led by CMS
- Widespread implementation and improved use of Electronic Health Records at hospitals
- AHRQ investments in producing evidence about how to make care safer, tools and training to catalyze improvement, and data and measures to be able to track change
(Saving Lives and Saving Money: Hospital-Acquired Conditions Update: Interim Data From National Efforts To Make Care Safer, 2010-2014, AHRQ, December 1, 2015)
According to the report, about 40 percent of that reduction was from adverse drug events, about 28 percent from pressure ulcers, and about 16 percent from catheter-associated urinary tract infections. (“AHRQ: Efforts to Reduce HACs Have Saved Lives and Lowered Costs,” AHLA Weekly, December 4, 2015)
AHRQ noted, “ . . . even with the 17 percent decline in the HACs,” the interim 2014 HAC rate of 121 HACs per 1,000 discharges is the same as was seen in 2013, and it means that in 2013 and 2014 almost 10 percent of hospitalized patients experienced one or more of the HACs AHRQ measured.
“That rate is still too high . . . much work remains to be done to ensure that the U.S. health care system is as safe as it can possibly be,” AHRQ said.
To read the full AHRQ report (lots of graphs), click here.
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