HHS reports 9% drop in adverse events at U.S. hospitals

Medicare's readmission rate also continued its steady decline

HHS on Wednesday announced that preventable adverse events at U.S. hospitals decreased by 9% from 2010 to 2012, while the Medicare all-cause readmission rate continued its steady decline.

A decrease in hospital-induced harm

The preliminary data on hospital-acquired conditions (HACs)—which include adverse drug events, falls, and infections—was collected by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

According to the report, the HAC rate decreased from 145 HACs per 1,000 discharges in 2010 to 132 HACs per 1,000 discharges in 2012.

As a result of the HAC decrease, HHS estimates that hospitals from 2010 to 2012 prevented:

  • 15,000 deaths;
  • 560,000 patient injuries; and
  • $4 billion in health spending.

Federal officials attributed the reductions in patient harm to the efforts of the Partnership for Patients, a patient-safety program developed under the Affordable Care Act that focuses on reducing preventable harm and easing transitions of care.

What you need to know about the Partnership for Patients

A steady decline in Medicare readmissions

The report also included the latest data on 30-day readmissions for Medicare beneficiaries, which have continued to decline. It found that the preventable 30-day all-cause readmission rate was:

  • About 19% from 2007 to 2011;
  • 18.5% in 2012; and
  • 17.5% in 2013.

AHRQ: The conditions that cause the most readmissions

Overall, the decrease represents an 8% reduction in the readmission rate since 2011, according to HHS.

HHS adds that the reduction in the readmission rate resulted in 150,000 fewer hospital readmissions from January 2012 to December 2013 (HHS release, 5/7; HHS report, 5/7; AP/Washington Post, 5/7; McKinney, Modern Healthcare, 5/7 [subscription required]; Al-Faruque, The Hill, 5/7).

Reducing patient harm: How we can help

Advisory.com has myriad resources to help you prevent patient harm and readmissions, including:


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