ACA initiatives lead to decline in patient deaths and save $12 billion

December 4, 2014

An estimated 50,000 fewer patients died in hospitals and approximately $12 billion was saved between 2010 and 2013 because of reduced hospital-acquired conditions,according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

An estimated 50,000 fewer patients died in hospitals and approximately $12 billion was saved between 2010 to 2013 because of reduced hospital-acquired conditions, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

HHS attributes the decline in part to Medicare payment incentives created under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to improve the quality of care. It also credits the Partnership for Patients initiative as being instrumental in reducing the numbers.

Preliminary results, according to HHS, show a 17% decline in hospital-acquired conditions from 2010 to 2013, or 1.3 million fewer patient experiences

“Today’s results are welcome news for patients and their families,” said HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell in a press release. “These data represent significant progress in improving the quality of care that patients eceive while spending our health care dollars more wisely.  HHS will work with partners across the country to continue to build on this progress.”

Read: Extending hospital stay by one day can reduce readmissions

HHS says the most significant gain occurred in 2012, when almost 35,000 fewer patients died in hospitals, and approximately 800,000 fewer incidents of harm occurred, for a savings of $8 billion.

Data about adverse conditions was analyzed by HHS’ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). Hospital-acquired conditions include adverse drug events, catheter-associated urinary tract infections, central line bloodstream infections, surgical site infections, and pressure ulcers.

“Never before have we been able to bring so many hospitals, clinicians and experts together to share in a common goal – improving patient care,” said Rich Umbdenstock, president and CEO of the American Hospital Association. “We have built an ‘infrastructure of improvement’ that will aid hospitals and the healthcare field for years to come and has spurred the results you see today. We applaud HHS for having the vision to support these efforts and look forward to our continued partnership to keep patients safe and healthy.”

Patrick Conway, M.D., CMS deputy administrator for innovation and quality and chief medical officer said, “As a practicing physician in the hospital setting, I know how important it is to keep patients as safe as possible.  These collaborative efforts are rapidly moving healthcare safety in the right direction.” 

“AHRQ has developed the evidence base and many of the tools that hospitals have used to achieve this dramatic decline in patient harms,” said AHRQ director Richard Kronick, Ph.D. “Additionally, AHRQ’s work in measuring adverse events, performed as part of the Partnership for Patients, made it possible to track the rate of change in these harms nationwide and chart the progress being made.”