(Story updated at 2:58 p.m. ET.)
HHS has a long way to go toward meeting its end-of-2014 patient-safety goals, but newly released data appear to show encouraging progress on preventing repeat trips to the hospital and curbing adverse events, such as falls and infections.
The all-cause 30-day readmission rate for Medicare beneficiaries continued its downward trend, dropping to 17.5% through the end of 2013, according to an HHS report released Wednesday. That's down from the most recent numbers, published in December on the CMS' blog, showing a readmission rate hovering just under 18% during the first eight months of 2013. The Medicare all-cause readmission rates had held stubbornly around the 19% mark from 2007 to 2011, before dipping to 18.5% in 2012.