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Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; December 2015. AHRQ Publication No. 16-0009-EF.
The Partnership for Patients initiative has led efforts to reduce hospital-acquired conditions (HACs), such as health care–associated infections and other never events. Since 2010, AHRQ has been tracking rates of HACs including adverse drug events, catheter-associated urinary tract infections, central line–associated bloodstream infections, pressure ulcers, and surgical site infections. This interim update demonstrates that HACs were reduced by 17% in 2014, indicating that the previously reported decline has been sustained. With this decrease in HACs, the analysis estimates that 87,000 fewer hospital patients died and $19.8 billion in health care costs were saved from 2011 to 2014. Although HACs persist despite incentives and strategies to eliminate them, these reductions indicate that hospitals have made substantial progress in improving safety.
2013 Annual Hospital-Acquired Condition Rate and Estimates of Cost Savings and Deaths Averted From 2010 to 2013.
Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; October 2015. AHRQ Publication No.16-0006-EF.
Hospital-acquired conditions (HACs), some of which are never events, have been an important focus of patient safety initiatives, with reporting requirements and Medicare nonpayment leading to significant efforts to prevent these conditions. This update to a prior report from AHRQ details and confirms the declining rates in HACs between 2010 and 2013. The analysis indicated that hospitalized patients experienced 1.3 million fewer HACs over the 3 years (2011–2013) than if the HAC rate had remained at the 2010 level. Consequently, the report estimates a $12 billion savings in health care costs and 50,000 fewer hospital patient deaths. These improvements coincided with nationwide efforts to reduce adverse events, such as the Partnership for Patients initiative and Medicare payment reform. The remaining burden of HACs suggests continued investment in this patient safety problem is needed.
Efforts To Improve Patient Safety Result in 1.3 Million Fewer Patient Harms: Interim Update on 2013 Annual Hospital-Acquired Condition Rate and Estimates of Cost Savings and Deaths Averted From 2010 to 2013.
Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; December 2014. AHRQ Publication No. 15-0011-EF.
This report from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality provides estimates on hospital-acquired conditions (HACs)—including never events and health care–associated infections—for hospitals in the United States from 2010 to 2013. These adverse events continue to decline steadily, with an estimated 9% decrease in most recent year over year comparison. In 2013, there were 121 HACs for every 1000 hospital admissions. These improvements resulted in significant cost-savings and reduced morbidity and mortality rates. The authors attribute this change to CMS payment reform and to the Partnership for Patients initiative. Although uncertainty about the cause of these improvements remains, the lower HAC rate clearly demonstrates that efforts to reduce patient safety problems in hospitalized patients are yielding results. The substantial remaining burden of HACs argues for more investment in patient safety in hospital settings.
Battles JB, Cleeman JI, Kahn KL, Weinberg DA, eds. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; June 2014. AHRQ Publication No. 14-0003.
Health care–associated infections (HAIs) are a known contributor to preventable patient harm. This AHRQ publication offers 19 papers that explore government-funded research into HAIs, including lessons learned from the design and implementation of prevention efforts along with projects that sought to detect and measure HAI incidents to determine risks. The report discusses specific infections, including clostridium difficile and methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, as well as common conditions, such as central line-associated blood stream infections and catheter-associated urinary tract infections. A recent AHRQ WebM&M perspective reviews how infection prevention fits into a safety program.
Journal Article > Government Resource
Fridkin S, Baggs J, Fagan R, et al; National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, CDC. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2014;63:194-200.
Antibiotics are among the most remarkable life-saving advances of modern medicine. However, when used incorrectly these medications pose serious risks for patients due to adverse effects and the potential to cause complicated infections, including those resistant to multiple antibiotics. This national database study found that more than half of all patients discharged from a hospital in 2010 received antibiotics during their stay. Many of these antibiotics were deemed to be unnecessary, and there was wide variation seen in antibiotic usage across hospital wards. A model accounting for both direct and indirect effects of antibiotics predicted that decreasing hospitalized patients' exposure to broad-spectrum antibiotics by 30% would lead to a 26% reduction in Clostridium difficile infection. The CDC recommends that all hospitals implement antibiotic stewardship programs, and this article provides core elements to guide these efforts. An AHRQ WebM&M commentary describes inappropriate antibiotic usage that resulted in a patient death. Dr. Alison Holmes spoke about infection prevention and antimicrobial stewardship in a recent AHRQ WebM&M interview.
Tools/Toolkit > Fact Sheet/FAQs
Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; Revised December 2009. AHRQ Publication No. 10-M008.
This tip sheet provides 10 practical steps hospitals can undertake to improve patient safety, based on research funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. The tips can be grouped into three areas: 1) reducing health care-acquired infections and retained surgical instruments through use of specific clinical practices; 2) improving drug safety by ensuring access to accurate drug information; and 3) improving the culture of safety through appropriate staffing and work hours for nurses and residents. These tips are based on high-quality research studies documenting the effectiveness of these interventions at reducing errors and improving safety for a broad range of patients.
Journal Article > Multi-use Website
Taking the pulse of health care systems: experiences of patients with health problems in six countries.
Schoen C, Osborn R, Huynh PT, et al. Health Aff. 2005;Web Exclusives(suppl):W5-509-525.
This Commonwealth Fund-sponsored survey provides an international perspective from patients from Australia, Canada, Germany, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Overall, the findings collectively suggest that no single country stands alone as the best or worst in the identified health care issues. These issues included transitional care and care coordination, medication safety, chronic care management and patient-centered care, and timely access. The United States, for instance, seemed to suffer from fragmentation of care and inadequate insurance as well as limitations in access and efficiency. However, each country shared certain strengths and challenges. The findings suggest that fundamental changes to health care will be necessary, beyond current efforts targeting payment and delivery systems.
Shojania KG, Duncan BW, McDonald KM, Wachter RM, eds. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; 2001. AHRQ Publication No. 01-E058.
Most evidence reports are placed on shelves and gather dust. This one, which reviewed the state of the evidence behind nearly 80 different safety practices (including computerized order entry, use of pharmacists on rounds, methods to prevent falls and nosocomial infections, and interventions to create a culture of safety), became quite influential, in part because it was the first effort to subject safety practices to the same scrutiny as other clinical practices in terms of their evidence of effectiveness. Nearly 100,000 copies of the report have been obtained from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and its now-famous list of the top 11 practices became the focus of many a new patient safety program at hospitals around the nation. The report served as one of the intellectual underpinnings of subsequent rankings of practices such as those by the National Quality Forum and the Leapfrog Group. It also engendered a spirited debate between those who advocated a practical approach to the adoption of safety practices and those promoting a more evidence-based approach. Readers are cautioned that evidence reports have limited shelf-lives, and it is worth reviewing recent literature before adopting even the most highly rated practices in this report.