AHRQ: Role of EHRs among keys to reduction of hospital-acquired conditions

Patients in 2014 experienced 2.1 million fewer hospital-acquired conditions (HACs) than in 2010, but new data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) shows the rate of change has leveled off from 2013.

The national rate of HACs stood at 121 per 1,000 discharges in 2014, compared with the baseline of 145 per 1,000 discharges when the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010. The rate is unchanged from 2013.

During the four-year period tracked, 86,669 lives were saved and $19.8 billion in costs averted, according to the AHRQ. Though it did not study electronic health record use, the report points to research indicating that increased adoption and improved use of EHRs has played a role in reducing HACs.

However, the rate is still too high, say the report's authors.

"Despite the progress to data in reducing HACs, much work remains to be done to ensure the U.S. healthcare system is as safe as it can possibly be," they write.

Just over half the cost savings, and nearly half the deaths avoided, came from averting bloodstream infections related to central lines. Adverse drug events prevented made up the largest category of HACs in the report, which states that the data show it is possible to make substantial progress in reducing virtually all types of HACs simultaneously.

As work continues, AHRQ is actively targeting challenges such as diagnostic error and antibiotic resistance, the report states.

Most patients will experience a misdiagnosis in their lifetime, a recent Institute of Medicine report concluded. And a recent New England Journal of Medicine opinion piece argued that the healthcare industry must adopt a systemwide approach to tackling medical misdiagnosis.

Research published earlier this year in the Journal of Patient Safety put the hospital's cost for a patient who suffers temporary harm during a hospital stay at $2,187 and at $4,617 if the patient suffers a greater harm.

To learn more:
- here's the report