Feature | May 14, 2014

New HHS Data Indicate Quality Improvements Saved $4 Billion in Health Spending

Hospital readmissions fall by 8 percent among Medicare beneficiaries

May 14, 2014 — The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that new preliminary data show an overall 9 percent decrease in hospital-acquired conditions nationally during 2011 and 2012. National reductions in adverse drug events, falls, infections and other forms of hospital-induced harm are estimated to have prevented nearly 15,000 deaths in hospitals, avoided 560,000 patient injuries and approximately $4 billion in health spending over the same period.

The Affordable Care Act is also helping reduce hospital readmissions. After holding constant at 19 percent from 2007 to 2011 and decreasing to 18.5 percent in 2012, the Medicare all-cause 30-day readmission rate has further decreased to approximately 17.5 percent in 2013. This translates into an 8 percent reduction in the rate and an estimated 150,000 fewer hospital readmissions among Medicare beneficiaries between January 2012 and December 2013.

HHS reported the following drops in hospital-acquired conditions between 2-1- and 2013:

  • 52 percent drop in ventilator associated pneumonia (VAP);
  • 13 percent drop in venous thromboembolic (VTE) complications;
  • 15 percent drop in falls and trauma; and
  • 25 percent drop in pressure ulcers.

“We applaud the nationwide network of hospital systems and providers that are working together to save lives and reduce costs,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “We are seeing a simultaneous reduction in hospital readmissions and injuries, giving patients confidence that they are receiving the best possible care and lowering their risk of having to be readmitted to the hospital after they get the care they need.”

These improvements reflect policies and an unprecedented public-private collaboration made possible by the Affordable Care Act. The data demonstrates that hospitals and providers across the country are achieving reductions in hospital-induced harm experienced by patients. These major strides in patient safety are a result of strong, diverse public-private partnerships and active engagement by patients and families, including efforts from the federal Partnership for Patients initiative and hospital engagement networks, quality improvement organizations, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Administration on Community Living, the Indian Health Service and many others.

For more information: http://innovation.cms.gov/Files/reports/patient-safety-results.pdf

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