HHS Says Hospital-Acquired Conditions Drop by 1.3 Million

The US Department of Health and Human Services this week said rates of avoidable hospital-acquired conditions are decreasing, thanks in part to Affordable Care Act provisions that incentivize quality of care.

The US Department of Health and Human Services this week said rates of avoidable hospital-acquired conditions are decreasing, thanks in part to Affordable Care Act provisions that incentivize quality of care.

HHS estimates its initiatives decreased hospital-acquired conditions by 1.3 million cases from 2010 to 2013, resulting in 50,000 fewer deaths and $12 billion in avoided healthcare costs.

“These data represent significant progress in improving the quality of care that patients receive while spending our health care dollars more wisely,” said Sylvia M. Burwell, the HHS secretary, in a press release.

Most of the gains came in 2013, HHS said, when 800,000 fewer cases, 35,000 fewer deaths, and $8 billion in cost savings were reported.

Richard Kronick, PhD, who directs HHS’ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), said data collected by his agency has been a powerful tool for hospitals.

“AHRQ has developed the evidence base and many of the tools that hospitals have used to achieve this dramatic decline in patient harms,” Kronick said. “Additionally, AHRQ’s work in measuring adverse events, performed as part of the Partnership for Patients, made it possible to track the rate of change in these harms nationwide and chart the progress being made.”

Some of the most common hospital-acquired conditions, according to HHS, are adverse drug events, catheter-associated urinary tract infections, pressure ulcers, and surgical site infections.

Rich Umbdenstock, MPH, president of the American Hospital Association, said the reductions are an example of the gains that can be achieved when government and industry work together to target a problem.

“We have built an ‘infrastructure of improvement’ that will aid hospitals and the healthcare field for years to come and has spurred the results you see today,” he said, in a press release.