Decline in Hospital Errors Saved 50,000 Lives in 2013

On Tuesday, Sylvia Burwell, Secretary of Health and Human Services, announced at the CMS Healthcare Quality Conference in Baltimore, MD, that in 2013 American hospitals saw 17 percent fewer errors than in 2012. The data includes a 9 percent decline (1.3 MN fewer hospital-acquired infections) in the rate of conditions caused by hospitals, including infection, bedsores and pneumonia. A decline in the rates of adverse drug events and pressure ulcers accounted for approximately 66 percent of mistakes in the last four years. Overall, the figures account for 50,000 more hospital patients alive today who would not have been in 2012. Not only have the efforts to improve hospital safety saved lives, but have also saved the health care system approximately $12 BN from 2012 to 2013.

The report is based on the analysis of over tens of thousands of medical records from 2012 to 2013. In 2010, the Health and Human Services inspector found that poor care and resulting errors contributed to the death of 180,000 patients covered by Medicare (individuals disabled and/or 65 years and older). Efforts credited with the improvement in hospital care include financial incentives to keep patients healthy, such as readmission penalties, and private initiatives, such as the Partnership for Patients, dedicated to raising awareness of the best practices for hospitals. However, uncertainty remains as to the extent of success of the credited initiatives, as health care experts point out a lack of transparency make it difficult to determine the extent of success of private organizations. Furthermore, it has been pointed out that readmission rates are unfair to hospitals that receive the most vulnerable patients.

As quoted by a Washington Post article a representative for the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services notes,

We made major investments in quality improvements… We made investments in the research and understanding of patient safety.”

The new data is a major step for the health care industry. With the development of new technology and techniques, further limitation of error can be expected in the future. As quoted by NBC News, Burwell states,

A 17 percent reduction in hospital-acquired conditions is a big deal, but it’s only a start… No American should ever lose his or her life, or spend the holidays in the hospital because of a condition that could have been prevented.”


Read more here- “US Hospitals Make Fewer Serious Errors: 50,000 Lives Saved,” (Sharon Begley and Dan Grebler, Reuters)

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Olivia is a graduate of Villanova University where she studied Economics and History, minoring in Gender and Women's Studies. She also has experience working with federal legislatures on health care policy, women's issues, and Internet safety.


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