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Dr David Blumenthal Considers the Reduction in Hospital-Acquired Conditions

The 17% decline in hospital-acquired conditions from 2010 to 2014 is the result of a decades long campaign and means lives saved, the avoidance of pain and suffering, and less costly care, said David Blumenthal, MD, MPP, president of The Commonwealth Fund.


The 17% decline in hospital-acquired conditions from 2010 to 2014 is the result of a decades long campaign and means lives saved, the avoidance of pain and suffering, and less costly care, said David Blumenthal, MD, MPP, president of The Commonwealth Fund.

Transcript (slightly modified)

Well the most important thing about the drop in hospital-acquired infections is that it means lives saved and people who haven’t been injured, families that haven’t been affected by the loss of loved ones or the burdens of caring for loved ones who are sick and suffering. It also has the benefit of saving money: avoided safety hazards usually result in less costly care.

Why is it happening now? I think there’s a combination of things. In large trends like this there is almost always multiple factors in play. We’ve had an almost 20-year campaign in the United States to improve safety of care. Perhaps that continuing campaign on behalf of thought leaders, leaders in the safety movement, public policy makers at the federal and state level, perhaps that’s finally penetrated into the work of our major institutions.

We also have had a series of new pay-for-performance programs that have highlighted the opportunity to reduce hospital-acquired, or healthcare-acquired, conditions—some of those are Medicare payments, some are private payments. So we know that payment has increasingly focused on pay-for-performance, including safety improvement.

And then the Affordable Care Act added some momentum when it was passed in 2010 and created penalties for higher-than-expected numbers of hospital-acquired conditions, and also provided technical support in the form of the Partnership for Patients, which is a national alliance of hospitals participating in safety improvement.

So I think there are a lot of things in play. There’s no question this is a very important set of statistics and I’m pretty confident they’re real, because they’re based to some extent on consistent measures developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and reported nationally in a consistent way.

 
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