May 7, 2014 - The 30-day hospital readmission rate in Medicare — a key quality-of-care metric — continued to decline in 2013, and hospital-acquired conditions (HACs), such as infections, adverse drug events, and falls decreased 9% from 2010 to 2012, saving almost 15,000 lives, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced.

HHS credited the improvements to a number of public–private partnerships and federal initiatives, including a provision of the Affordable Care Act that penalizes hospitals for excessive readmission rates, which are
considered indicative of poor discharge planning and follow-up care.

The rate of readmissions for Medicare fee-for-service patients within30 days of a previous hospital stay generally hovered between 19% and 19.5% from 2007 to 2011 and then dropped to 18.5% in 2012 and 17.5% in 2013, according to HHS. As a result, Medicare avoided an estimated 150,000 readmissions in 2012 and 2013 combined.

Meanwhile, the same kind of success was playing out in reducing HACs. The rate of HACs per 1000 Medicare hospital discharges decreased 9%, going from 145 in 2010 to 132 in 2012. HHS estimates that safer hospital care translated into 560,000 fewer HACs, 15,000 fewer deaths, and savings of $4.1 billion in 2011 and 2012 combined.

Preventing HACs and hospital readmissions is the focus of a program called Partnership for Patients that HHS launched in 2011. Its stated objective at the time was to reduce HACs by 40% and preventable 30-day readmissions by 20% by the end of 2013 compared with 2010 levels. A federal report on the recent declines in these 2 areas puts the time frame for the program's goals as between 2010 and 2014.  Visit Medscape for the complete article by Robert Lowes.

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