Vice President Joe Biden called for increased focus on error and infection reduction in the healthcare industry and more government incentives to facilitate them, according to Kaiser Health News.
Historically, Biden said at this weekend's Patient Safety, Science and Technology Summit in Irvine, California, the healthcare system has not placed enough emphasis on the connection between patient safety and overall quality, but added that recent efforts to reduce readmissions and cut hospital-acquired infections indicate progress.
"This is the time to double down on your commitment to patient safety," Biden said. "We've gone from accepting the inevitable to showing what's absolutely within our wheelhouse to be able to change."
Biden's remarks followed comments by former president Bill Clinton, who spoke at the summit Friday. "I believe that all over the country the deaths from hospital-incurred infections are going to go down dramatically 'cause more and more people are just going to do what they need to do," Clinton said, according to CBS Los Angeles. "It's pretty basic and it's hard to justify not doing it."
The summit was sponsored by the Patient Safety Movement, which aims to completely eliminate preventable patient deaths by 2020, according to Kaiser Health News.
In addition to the general patient safety focus, the conference also zeroed in on sepsis prevention. Sepsis costs providers more than $20 billion a year and has a mortality rate as high as 50 percent, and many hospitals, such as UC San Francisco, have developed early-identification programs, according to the article. Penn Medicine in Philadelphia, for example, has used data analytics to reduce sepsis mortality rates, FierceHealthIT previously reported.
"One of the reasons we chose sepsis was, in terms of altering the care pathway, there is strong evidence to suggest that if you intervene early and appropriately, you can actually decrease mortality rate," said Christine VanZandbergen, associate chief information officer at Penn Medicine.