News & Commentary

Hospital safety efforts pay off big time


Nationwide efforts to make hospital care safer appear to be paying off as about 250,000 fewer patients died because of hospital-acquired conditions from 2010 through 2015, according to a study by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). Researchers estimate that on top of the lessening in human suffering, the improved hospital safety saved about $28 billion. Hospitalized patients experienced about 3 million fewer hospital-acquired conditions during that period, resulting in a 21% decline in the rate of adverse events.

Prevented hospital-acquired conditions by type, 2011–2015

Note: Cumulatively, about 3.1 million fewer incidents of harm occurred in 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2015 (compared with 2010). About 42% of this reduction is from adverse drug events, about 23% from pressure ulcers, and about 15% from catheter-associated urinary tract infections.

Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, “National Scorecard on Rates of Hospital-Acquired Conditions 2010 to 2015: Interim Data From National Efforts To Make Health Care Safer,” Dec. 12, 2016

For the purposes of this study, hospital-acquired conditions include catheter-associated urinary tract infections, adverse drug events, central line associated bloodstream infections, pressure ulcers, and surgical site infections. As a result of the reduction, AHRQ researchers estimate that about 980,000 fewer adverse incidents of harm occurred in 2015 than would have occurred if the rate had remained at the 2010 level.

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