Reduction in hospital-acquired conditions saved $2.9B over 2 years
A downward trend of fewer hospital-acquired conditions from 2010 was sustained in 2015 and 2016, and led to $2.9 billion in savings while preventing about 8,000 deaths, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality reported.
AHRQ said preliminary data show that HACs decreased by 8% between 2014 and 2016 after dropping by 17% between 2010 and 2014.
HHS has a goal of reducing HACs by 20% from 2014 to 2019. That would result in about 1.8 million fewer conditions, $19.1 billion in savings and 53,000 fewer deaths between 2015 and 2019, AHRQ estimated.
As quality and value have taken on greater importance in healthcare reimbursements, hospitals and physicians are increasingly seeing a financial connection to patient safety.
The Affordable Care Act’s Hospital-Acquired Condition Reduction Program allows the HHS secretary to reduce payments by 1% for hospitals that rank in the worst-performing quartile for risk-adjusted HAC quality measures. Earlier this year, the CMS reduced payments for 751 hospitals in fiscal 2018 because of high rates of HACs, down from 769 the year before.
Program supporters say patient safety initiatives connected to payment can drive improvements, but opponents like the American Hospital Association say cutting payments penalizes larger safety net hospitals with sicker patients who have more complicated conditions.
For its report, AHRQ used 28 measures of patient safety events, such as hospital-acquired infections, adverse drug events and injuries connected to procedures, pressure ulcers and falls in the study.
They found a number of HAC rates improved, including adverse drug events, ventilator-associated pneumonia and falls. However, not all areas showed improvement. Pressure ulcers increased and catheter-associated urinary tract infections ticked up slightly.
Overall, HHS is expecting momentum to continue for the rest of the decade. AHRQ estimates that the HHS 20% reduction goal by 2019 would put the rate at 78 per 1,000 discharges in 2019.
The researchers calculated a rate of 98 HACs per 1,000 hospital discharges at the beginning of 2014. That equals about 2.92 million among all adult patients. The rate fell to 90 per 1,000 hospital discharges at the end of that year.
The preliminary 2016 rates showed about 2.69 million HACs, though the report cautioned that researchers still need final hospital patient charge data for 2016. AHRQ estimated 350,000 fewer HACs in 2016 when compared to 2014.