Hospitals save lives, money by reducing medical errors

December 18, 2014

Between 2010 and 2013, a significant decline in medical errors at U.S. hospitals reduced hospital-acquired conditions, saving an estimated 50,000 lives and billions of dollars.

Between 2010 and 2013, a significant decline in medical errors at U.S. hospitals reduced hospital-acquired conditions, saving an estimated 50,000 lives and billions of dollars.

According to a report released by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), U.S. hospitals had 1.3 million fewer “patient harms,” saving $12 billion in healthcare spending as a result. During that three-year period, the hospitals had a 17% decline in hospital-acquired conditions.

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

HHS officials attributed the decline in hospital medical errors to provisions in federal laws that provide financial incentives to reduce hospital-acquired infections.

“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.”