Hospital-acquired condition rates are a struggle for every hospital, but can be overcome with focus and training.
- Every medical facility deals with the possibility of a hospital-acquired condition (HAC) affecting a patient during or after their visit. These include things like infections during surgery, falls and trauma, pressure ulcers, items left in during surgery and blood incompatibility. Many Regulations have been put in place that penalize hospitals that are not able to lower their rate of HACs.
Last month, we saw both sides of the coin. First, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a report that found the rate of HACs from 2010 through 2013 had made significant progress. The study states that 1.3 million fewer patients were harmed, 50,000 fewer patients died and an estimated $12 billion in health costs were saved as a result of improved patient safety. This is a 17 percent drop in HACs over the three year period.
Despite these numbers, there is still much work to be done. The federal government announced at the end of December that 721 hospitals will be penalized because of unacceptable HACs rates. These facilities will see their Medicare payments reduced by 1 percent over the 2015 fiscal year, which amounts to an estimated $373 million in lost funds.
How are hospitals lowering HACs?
Since this is a challenge for all hospitals, how are they combating it? The Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association reported that over the 2010-2013 time frame, Virginia and North Carolina hospitals and health systems prevented harm to more than 10,000 patients and saved more than $90 million by reducing HACs.
According to the release, during the last four years, hospital leaders, staff and physicians have taken part in a regional improvement network. This has included joint training sessions and programs, as well as interaction with local and national experts to learn about new strategies and how to implement best practices for improving safety and quality of care.
This resulted in positive strides made in several different areas and reductions from the baseline. These include:
•Elective deliveries prior to 39 weeks gestation – down 88 percent
•Falls – down 57 percent
•Adverse drug events – down 55 percent
•Central line-associated blood stream infections – down 54 percent
•Surgical site infections – down 48 percent
•Ventilator-associated pneumonia – down 37 percent
•Pressure ulcers – down 26 percent
•Readmissions – down 5.9 percent
“By implementing evidence-based strategies and collaborating with each other and our community-based partners on improving efforts, Virginia hospitals have produced significant reductions in hospital-acquired conditions, resulting in improved quality of care, lower costs and better overall health care experiences for patients,” Sean Connaughton, President and CEO of the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association, said in the report.