Patient harms fall 17% since 2010: Are federal incentives working?

In 2010, the healthcare community was tasked with improving quality measures through a series of initiatives, including Medicare payment incentives and HHS' Partnership for Patients. Preliminary data from HHS demonstrates that such initiatives have proved successful so far.

The interim update report on 2013 annual healthcare-associated infection rates and cost savings estimates indicates a 17 percent drop in healthcare-acquired conditions from 2010 to 2013, which equals approximately 1.3 million fewer infections. Such a decline also translates to approximately 50,000 fewer patient deaths in hospitals and a $12 billion reduction in healthcare costs.

The report indicates the most significant gains were made from 2012 to 2013 alone. The preliminary data shows in 2013, there were approximately 35,000 fewer patient deaths in hospitals, 800,000 fewer incidents of harm and cost savings of nearly $8 billion.

Over the past three years, central line-associated bloodstream infections experienced the largest measured decline, falling 49 percent, followed by catheter-associated urinary tract infections (28 percent), pressure ulcers (20 percent), adverse drug events (19 percent) and surgical site infections (19 percent).

"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, spurred in part by Medicare payment incentives and catalyzed by the HHS Partnership for Patients initiative led by CMS," reads the report.

More articles on patient safety:

Patient safety tool: How to treat severe infections in the ICU
Missing health data among ECRI's top 10 safety risks
Physicians rarely apologize after patient adverse events, survey finds

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