Efforts to make hospitals safer for patients are paying off, preventing 3.1 million harmful hospital-acquired conditions and the deaths of some 125,000 people, according to an HHS report released Monday. Those improvements saved close to $28 billion in healthcare costs from 2010 through 2015.
Healthcare leaders touted this progress as a direct result of policies laid out in the Affordable Care Act, public-private partnerships such as the Partnership for Patients, which launched in 2011, and other quality improvement initiatives to target hospital-acquired conditions. These conditions include infections, falls, pressure ulcers and other adverse outcomes.
"These achievements demonstrate the commitment across many public and private organizations and frontline clinicians to improve the quality of care received by patients across the county,” said Dr. Patrick Conway, the CMS's deputy administrator for innovation and quality and its chief medical officer.
The CMS's Partnership for Patients, for instance, set specific targets for reducing all-cause patient harm, as well as 30-day readmissions to hospitals. Meanwhile, Medicare's Hospital-Acquired Condition Reduction Program reduces payments to certain hospitals that perform poorly on measures of these conditions.
In some places, the HHS report conflicted with a report issued one week earlier by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that detailed inadequate progress on cutting hospital-acquired infections.
The CDC report said that central line-associated bloodstream infections fell by half from 2008 to 2014, despite a targeted reduction of 60% by 2015. Catheter-associated urinary tract infections barely changed from 2009 to 2014, despite a targeted reduction of 30%.
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality collected the data that went into the HHS report, the National Scorecard on Rates of Hospital-Acquired Conditions. The national rate of healthcare-acquired conditions in 2015 was 21% lower than it was in 2010, the report found. Had rates remained the same, nearly 1 million more harmful incidents would have befallen patients, it said.
According to the HHS report, of the cumulative 3.1 million harmful incidents averted since 2010, about 42% were adverse drug events, 23% pressure ulcers, and about 15% from catheter-associated urinary tract infections -- the same infection whose rates in hospitals the CDC said barely changed from 2009 to 2014.