WBB's Thought Leadership

Hospital-Acquired Conditions Down 21 Percent from 2010 to 2015

January 6

AHRQ preliminary estimates for 2015 show that the rate of hospital-acquired conditions (HACs) was 115 per 1000 discharges, down from 145 in 2010.

AHRQ estimated that 125,000 deaths were avoided and $28 billion saved over a five-year period. The largest declines were in adverse drug events, pressure ulcers, and catheter-associated urinary tract infections. These HACs accounted for approximately 69% of all HACs measured in 2010.

Excerpt: “Preliminary1 estimates for 2015 show a 21 percent decline in hospital-acquired conditions (HACs) since 2010. A cumulative total of 3.1 million fewer HACs were experienced by hospital patients over the 5 years (2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015) relative to the number of HACs that would have occurred if rates had remained steady at the 2010 level. The preliminary 2015 rate is 115 HACs per 1,000 discharges, down from 2013 and 2014, which had held at 121 HACs per 1,000 discharges. We estimate that nearly 125,000 fewer patients died in the hospital as a result of HACs and that approximately $28 billion in health care costs were saved from 2010 to 2015 due to the reductions in HACs.

“Although the precise causes of the decline in patient harm are not fully understood, the increase in safety has occurred during a period of concerted attention by hospitals throughout the country to reduce adverse events. This effort has been spurred in part by Medicare payment incentives and catalyzed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Partnership for Patients (PfP) initiative, which was started in 2011.”

“Preliminary estimates for 2015 show the national HAC rate as nearly 21 percent lower than in 2010 (see Exhibits 1 and 2). As a result of the reduction in the rate of HACs, we estimate that approximately 980,000 fewer incidents of harm occurred in 2015 than would have occurred if the rate of HACs had remained steady at the 2010 level (Exhibit 3).

“Cumulatively, approximately 3.1 million fewer incidents of harm occurred in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015 (compared with 2010). About 42 percent of this reduction is from adverse drug events, about 23 percent from pressure ulcers, and about 15 percent from catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTIs) (Exhibit 4). These HACs constituted about 34 percent, 27 percent, and 8 percent, respectively, of the HACs measured in the 2010 baseline rate.3”

Source: AHRQ

WBB Take: Recent research has suggested that as many as 400,000 patients per year die in America due to medical mistakes and missed opportunities. HACs are sentinel events in measuring quality and safety, and in determining if hospitals are reducing the burden of untimely morbidity and mortality. Monitoring & Evaluation and Quality Assurance and Process Improvement (MEQAPI) programs can enable healthcare organizations to reduce the toll of injury related to medical error, and the financial burden of waste, medically unnecessary care, and dealing with sequelae of medical mistakes.

Jerry Stefanko

Jerry Stefanko



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