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Less People Are Getting Sick or Injured in Hospitals, Report Says

Doctor reviewing medical chart with patientDoctor reviewing medical chart with patient

The number of people acquiring infections or injuries in hospitals is on a downward trend, saving tens of thousands of lives and billions of dollars, according to a new government report.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, located within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), states that there were 13% fewer “hospital-acquired conditions” between 2014 and 2017. This includes infections, adverse drug events, injuries due to procedures, falls, and other such hospital-related occurrences.

The report estimates there were 86 of these hospital-acquired conditions in 2017 per 1,000 patients, down from 99 in 2014. This reduction translates to roughly 20,500 averted deaths and $7.7 billion in costs saved.

The agency noted a particularly large drop in antibiotic-associated Clostridioides difficile infections, which cause an inflamed colon. These infections dropped 37% between 2014 and 2017. Adverse drug events also dropped 28% in this period.

These numbers come almost two months after Axios reported on the quality of U.S. hospitals, stating many do not follow basic federal rules and make simple, but detrimental, mistakes.

Hospital-related infections and injuries across the nation appear to be on a downward trend, however. Data from 2016 showed a 17% drop in hospital-acquired conditions between 2010 and 2014, translating to about $19.9 billion in cost savings and 87,000 fewer deaths between 2011 and 2014.

The HHS aims to see a 20% drop between 2014 and 2019, which could result in $19.2 billion in savings and 53,000 fewer deaths.