Hospital patient safety substantially improved from 2010 to 2013 with a 17% decline in hospital-acquired conditions (HACs), according to a final data synthesis from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
The decline translates to 1.3 million fewer incidents of patient harm, approximately 50,000 fewer patient deaths in hospitals, and $12 billion in health care cost savings. Gains were particularly strong in 2013 when 800,000 fewer patients experienced harms, 35,000 fewer patients died, and $8 billion in unnecessary costs was saved compared with 2010.
HACs include adverse drug events, catheter-associated urinary tract infections, central-line associated bloodstream infections, pressure ulcers and surgical site infections, and several other types of adverse events.
While precise reasons for the HAC decline cannot be pinpointed, it coincided with concerted efforts among hospitals across the country to reduce adverse events.
Efforts were spurred by the Affordable Care Act, which created Medicare payment incentives to improve the quality of care and by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Partnership for Patients initiative.
For more info, see 2013 Annual Hospital-Acquired Condition Rate and Estimates of Cost Savings and Deaths Averted from 2010 to 2013. Rockville, MD: AHRQ Publication No. 16-0006-EF.