Decline in Hospital-Acquired Conditions Comes to a Halt

After three years of decline, the rate of hospital-acquired conditions (HACs) appears to have plateaued in 2014, the latest period analyzed by the Agency of Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). According to a federal report recently completed by the AHRQ, the rate of hospital complications declined 17 percent from 2010 to 2013, but remained stagnant from 2013 to 2014.   Though the decline signifies hospitals’ success in reducing hospital-acquired injuries, the plateau indicates that the initial issues confronted may have required less complex solutions.

As hospitals work on improving their quality of care, Definitive Healthcare tracks their levels of success in various quality-based programs including Medicare value-based purchasing scores, Medicare readmission reduction penalty scores, and the HAC reduction program.  The penalties in the HAC Reduction Program are assigned to the hospitals that rank in the lowest performing quartile with respect to HAC measures. Definitive Healthcare has the latest HAC penalty data for FY 2016, just released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and has estimated the actual revenue loss to each hospital. The chart below shows the 25 hospitals that are expected to lose the most revenue due to a HAC Reduction Program penalty in FY 2016. Leading the list by a wide margin is Florida Hospital Orlando, whose penalty is estimated to cost them nearly $3.3 million.




In 2010, the Obama administration and federal health law set out to decrease the frequency of hospital-acquired infections and conditions by implementing various patient safety plans, including Medicare penalties for those hospitals with the highest rates of HACs. Since the execution of these quality incentives in 2010, the AHRQ reported 2.1 million fewer incidents of harm, 87,000 fewer deaths and $20 billion in health care savings, demonstrating the plan’s initial success. Specifically, hospitals have seen a 72 percent drop in the number of infections from central lines inserted into veins, a 38 percent decrease from urinary catheter infections, and an 18 percent drop in surgical site infections.  It is evident that the Medicare penalties and bonuses have provided ample incentive to improve hospitals’ quality of care; however, there are many other hospital-acquired conditions that must now come into focus.

According to the AHRQ report, there has yet to be a decrease in the number of falls as well as pneumonia cases in patients breathing through mechanical ventilators. Additionally, the AHRQ expected the number of childbirth complications and adverse drug reactions to be lower than they were in 2014. Dr. Richard Kronick, the director of the AHRQ who conducted the study, suggested that the improvements seen in 2010-2013 are from problems that required relatively simple solutions, meaning that the complications that have yet to experience a decline may require more complex solutions as there are often many factors involved.

As Definitive Healthcare tracks the nation’s hospitals throughout the rest of FY 2016, we will continue to gather and update their quality scores, including but not limited to the HAC Reduction Program. Through our database, users will be able to track the hospitals that experience revenue loss due to penalties as well as the bonuses awarded to those that are high performing. As hospitals work to disrupt the current plateau and aim to once again stimulate a decline in HACs, Definitive Healthcare will continue to follow their progress and provide you with the most comprehensive information on quality care.

Definitive Healthcare has the most up-to-date, comprehensive and integrated data on hospitals, physicians and other healthcare providers. Our hospitals database tracks nearly 7,600 US hospitals and includes quality metrics ranging from HAC Reduction Program to Value-Based Purchasing and Readmission Reduction Penalty Scores.

December 22, 2015 | Hospital Technology
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