News Feature | December 8, 2014

50,000 Lives Saved By Better Technology

Katie Wike

By Katie Wike, contributing writer

Population Health Management Clinical Risk Reduction

Hospitals are adopting more and more technology and, as a result, seeing a reduction in the number of hospital acquired conditions and medical errors that lead to preventable deaths.

According to an Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality report, U.S. hospitals have seen a 17 percent decline in preventable mortalities since 2012, meaning more than 50,000 lives have been saved.

“Today’s results are welcome news for patients and their families,” said HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell in a press release. “These data represent significant progress in improving the quality of care that patients receive while spending our health care dollars more wisely.  HHS will work with partners across the country to continue to build on this progress.”

According to iHealth Beat, the report found that, based on tens of thousands of medical records, hospital patients experienced 1.3 million fewer hospital-acquired conditions between 2010 and 2013. Reducing these conditions, such as surgical infections, accounted for 17 percent fewer hospital-acquired conditions overall.

“Never before have we been able to bring so many hospitals, clinicians and experts together to share in a common goal – improving patient care,” said Rich Umbdenstock, president and CEO of the American Hospital Association. “We have built an ‘infrastructure of improvement’ that will aid hospitals and the healthcare field for years to come and has spurred the results you see today. We applaud HHS for having the vision to support these efforts and look forward to our continued partnership to keep patients safe and healthy.”

Between 2012 and 2013 the HAC rate decreased by 9 percent. In 2013 alone, the results suggest there were about 800,000 fewer HACs in hospitals compared to 2010, saving about $8 billion and preventing nearly 35,000 deaths.

Health IT Outcomes reported earlier this year Big Data could further reduce hospital acquired conditions – especially infections. A program from OhioHealth and IBM planned to incorporate RFID chips into staff badges in an effort to increase hand washing. These monitors would be able to tell if an employee washed their hands upon entering and exiting each hospital room. The pilot study showed an increase in hand washing from 70 percent to more than 90 percent.