Rate of Hospital-Acquired Conditions Dropping

It's a life-threatening thing that not nearly enough people know about: going to the hospital for a non life-threatening illness and leaving by way of the coroner.

In early 2010, Consumer Reports reported that in the United States, 1.7 million people go to US hospitals for one thing and, while there, pick up a hospital-acquired condition (HAC). They estimated the number of people who die as a result of HACs as somewhere around 100,000.

To this end, a newly published report from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) brings some good news: The rate of hospital-acquired conditions dropped 17 percent between 2010 and 2013.

The report claims that this reduction has led to 1.3 million fewer harms to hospitalized patients, an estimated 50,000 fewer deaths, and $12 billion in savings.

"The 17 percent reduction ... indicates that hospitals have made very substantial progress in improving safety," an HHS official said during a background conference call. "We can't precisely determine causality, but [the decrease] occurred during a concerted effort by hospitals to reduce adverse events. Financial incentives by payers, public reporting of results, and technical assistance offered by quality improvement organizations ... all contributed to these impressive results."

The report's authors partly credit the Partnership for Patients, a public-private initiative that includes HHS and nearly 3,700 hospitals, along with physician practices and other patient care organizations. The stated goal of this partnership is to decrease HACs by 40 percent by the end of 2014.

Some of the specific reductions that the report documented include:

  • Adverse drug events (19 percent)
  • Catheter-associated urinary tract infections (28 percent)
  • Pressure ulcers (20 percent)
  • Central line-associated bloodstream infections (49 percent)

According to the authors of the report, the 2013 HAC rate of 121 HACs per 1,000 discharges equated to 10 percent of hospitalized patients developing a hospital-acquired condition, a rate which it deemed to be "too high ... there is still much more work to be done."

Source: HHS

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