News & Commentary

Hospital Safety Improves at a Brisk Pace


There was a 17% drop in hospital-acquired conditions (HACs) between 2010 and 2014, according to data collected by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). That translates into 2.1 million fewer HACs for hospital patients and about 87,000 fewer patients dying over those years. In addition, about $20 billion in health care costs were saved, says AHRQ.

While the improvement cannot be definitively linked to efforts by CMS to encourage hospital safety—including fines for early readmissions of some Medicare patients—researchers note that it’s probably not a coincidence. In addition, they cite technical assistance offered by CMS quality improvement, and pay-for-performance programs.

“Numerous other public and private initiatives to improve health care quality and patient safety were implemented during these years; for example, the widespread implementation and improved use of electronic health records at hospitals,” an AHRQ report notes.

Deaths averted

Compared with a 2010 baseline (in thousands)

Deaths averted by condition, 2011–2014 (interim data)

Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, “Saving Lives and Saving Money: Hospital-Acquired Conditions Update (Interim Data From National Efforts to Make Care Safer, 2010–2014),” November 2015

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