By John Commins
Hospital-acquired conditions dropped 13% from 2014 to 2017; from 99 per 1,000 acute care discharges to 86 per 1,000, according to newly released federal data.
That reduction translates into 910,000 fewer HACs, including adverse drug events and healthcare-associated infections, which helped prevent 20,500 hospital deaths and saved $7.7 billion over the three-year span, according to a new analysis  from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
AHRQ’s review quantifies trends for several HACs, including adverse drug events, catheter-associated urinary tract infections, central-line associated bloodstream infections, Clostridioides difficile infections, pressure ulcers, and surgical site infections.
The report showed marked declines in several categories, such as adverse drug events, which dropped 28%, and C. diff. infections, which fell 37% from 2014 to 2017.
“The updated estimates are a testament to the successes we’ve seen in continuing to reduce hospital-acquired conditions,” AHRQ Director Gopal Khanna said.
It was not all good news, however. HACs involving pressure ulcers increased by 6%, and the number of surgical site infections didn’t budge over the three years.
“There’s no question that challenges still remain in addressing the problem of hospital-acquired conditions, such as pressure ulcers,” Khanna said. “But the gains highlighted today were made thanks to the persistent work of many stakeholders’ ongoing efforts to improve care for all patients.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services wants to reduce HACs by 20% between 2014 and 2019, which would result in 1.8 million fewer HACs over the five-year period, potentially saving 53,000 lives and saving $19.1 billion in hospital costs.
CMS Administrator Seema Verma said Tuesday that the work around reducing HACs is ongoing, as her agency develops new patient-centered measures that place outcomes over processes.
“While I am so proud of this accomplishment, we are working to get to a smaller set of dynamic measures that patients can use to identify high-value providers,” Verma told the CMS Quality Conference .