Secretary Burwell notes that there has been a 17 percent reduction in hospital acquired conditions.
Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell reported that there has been a major reduction in errors and health complications from hospitals. In prepared remarks delivered at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Quality Conference, Secretary Burwell notes that there has been a 17 percent reduction in hospital acquired conditions. This translates to 1.3 million fewer events and a savings of approximately $12 billion in health care costs.
Hospital acquired conditions include pressure ulcers, pneumonia from ventilators, falls, trauma, and central line infections. Reduction in these conditions, in addition to savings and fewer incidences, also means that lives were saved. Some hospital acquired conditions are serious and potentially fatal. The reported reduction also came with about 50,000 fewer lives lost.
According to Reuters, the issue of hospital acquired conditions has been present in the national conversation on health care costs and quality since 1999. At that time, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) reported that as many as 98,000 die every year because of hospital errors that lead to new or more complicated issues. In 2010, the HHS Inspector General updated the IOM findings, reporting that poor hospital care contributed to the deaths of 180,000 patients on Medicare.
The health reform law upped the stakes for hospitals, providing a greater incentive to reducing hospital acquired conditions. CMS is required to reduce the reimbursement rate for hospitals that readmit too many of the same patients within 30 days. Readmission rates can be an indicator of poor care the first time. Based on Secretary Burwell’s comments, this change and additional efforts made by hospitals has resulted in improvements that are, hopefully, the start of a bigger trend.