HACs Decline by 17%

Efforts to improve patient safety result in 1.3 million fewer patient harms, 50,000 lives saved and $12 billion in health spending avoided
Press Release Date: December 2, 2014

Hospital-acquired conditions (HACs) decline by 17 percent over a three-year period

A report released by the Department of Health and Human Services today shows an estimated 50,000 fewer patients died in hospitals and approximately $12 billion in health care costs were saved as a result of a reduction in hospital-acquired conditions from 2010 to 2013.  This progress toward a safer health care system occurred during a period of concerted attention by hospitals throughout the country to reduce adverse events. The efforts were due in part to provisions of the Affordable Care Act such as Medicare payment incentives to improve the quality of care and the HHS Partnership for Patients initiative.  Preliminary estimates show that in total, hospital patients experienced 1.3 million fewer hospital-acquired conditions from 2010 to 2013.  This translates to a 17 percent decline in hospital-acquired conditions over the three-year period.

"Today's results are welcome news for patients and their families," said HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell. "These data represent significant progress in improving the quality of care that patients receive while spending our health care dollars more wisely.  HHS will work with partners across the country to continue to build on this progress."

Today's data represent demonstrable progress over a three-year period to improve patient safety in the hospital setting, with the most significant gains occurring in 2012 and 2013. According to preliminary estimates, in 2013 alone, almost 35,000 fewer patients died in hospitals, and approximately 800,000 fewer incidents of harm occurred, saving approximately $8 billion.

Hospital-acquired conditions include adverse drug events, catheter-associated urinary tract infections, central line associated bloodstream infections, pressure ulcers, and surgical site infections, among others.  HHS' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) analyzed the incidence of a number of avoidable hospital-acquired conditions compared to 2010 rates and used as a baseline estimate of deaths and excess health care costs that were developed when the Partnership for Patients was launched. The results update the data showing improvement for 2012 that were released in May.

"Never before have we been able to bring so many hospitals, clinicians and experts together to share in a common goal—improving patient care," said Rich Umbdenstock, president and CEO of the American Hospital Association. "We have built an ‘infrastructure of improvement' that will aid hospitals and the health care field for years to come and has spurred the results you see today. We applaud HHS for having the vision to support these efforts and look forward to our continued partnership to keep patients safe and healthy."

To drive progress on the way care is provided, HHS is focused on improving the coordination and integration of health care, engaging patients more deeply in decision-making and improving the health of patients—with a priority on prevention and wellness. These major strides in patient safety are a result of strong, diverse public-private partnerships and active engagement by patients and families. These efforts include the federal Partnership for Patients initiative and Hospital Engagement Networks, Quality Improvement Organizations, and many other public and private partners.  In 2011, HHS set a goal of improving patient safety through the Partnership for Patients, which targets a specific set of  hospital-acquired conditions for reductions. Public and private partners are working collaboratively—including hospitals and other health care providers—to identify and spread best practices and solutions to reduce hospital-acquired conditions and readmissions.

Patrick Conway, M.D., CMS deputy administrator for innovation and quality and chief medical officer said, "As a practicing physician in the hospital setting, I know how important it is to keep patients as safe as possible.  These collaborative efforts are rapidly moving health care safety in the right direction." 

"AHRQ has developed the evidence base and many of the tools that hospitals have used to achieve this dramatic decline in patient harms," said AHRQ director Richard Kronick, Ph.D. "Additionally, AHRQ's work in measuring adverse events, performed as part of the Partnership for Patients, made it possible to track the rate of change in these harms nationwide and chart the progress being made."

AHRQ has produced a variety of tools and resources to help hospitals and other providers prevent hospital-acquired conditions, such as reducing infections, pressure ulcers, and falls. The tools and resources include the Comprehensive Unit-based Safety Program, the Re-Engineered Discharge Toolkit, TeamSTEPPS®, and more. 

HHS will continue working with partners to capitalize on these promising results and continue on the path of improving patient safety and reducing health care costs while providing the best, safest possible care to patients.

Additional Information

Contact: HHS Press Office

202-690-6343


Note: All HHS press releases, fact sheets and other news materials are available at http://www.hhs.gov/news

Page last reviewed December 2014
Page originally created December 2014
Internet Citation: HACs Decline by 17%. Content last reviewed December 2014. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/news/newsroom/press-releases/2014/hac-decline.html