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New patient safety initiative, Partnership for Patients, to improve care and lower costs for Americans unveiled in Colorado


New partnership between Administration, the private sector, hospitals and doctors to make care safer, potentially save up to $50 billion 

Health and Human Services Regional Director Marguerite Salazar unveiled today a new national patient safety initiative, Partnership for Patients, on behalf of the Obama Administration at Children's Hospital Colorado. Partnership for Patients is a program that will help save 60,000 lives across the country by stopping millions of preventable injuries and complications in patient care over the next three years. 

The Partnership for Patients also has the potential to save up to $35 billion in health care costs, including up to $10 billion for Medicare. Over the next 10 years, the initiative could reduce costs to Medicare by about $50 billion and result in billions more in Medicaid savings. Already, more than 500 hospitals, including Children's Hospital Colorado, as well as physicians and nurses groups, consumer groups, and employers have pledged their commitment to the new initiative.

“Americans go to the hospital to get well, but millions of patients are injured because of preventable complications and accidents,” said Salazar. “Working closely with hospitals, doctors, nurses, patients, families and employers, we will support efforts to help keep patients safe, improve care, and reduce costs. Working together, we can help eliminate preventable harm to patients.”

In addition, Daniel Hyman, MD, chief quality officer at Children's Hospital Colorado, shared examples of reducing hospital-associated infections through projects in the hospital’s intensive care units, cancer center and operating rooms that have resulted in significant reductions in a number of different types of infections. “We are on a journey and are committed to continuing the work to advance safety until naturally occurring human errors can be mitigated or prevented by systems that reliably protect patients from unintended harm.”

This week leaders from across the nation are pledging their commitment to this new initiative. To launch it, HHS announced it would invest up to $1 billion in federal funding, made available under the Affordable Care Act. Upon the announcement, $500 million of that funding was made available through the Community-based Care Transitions Program. Up to $500 million more will be dedicated from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Innovation Center to support new demonstrations related to reducing hospital-acquired conditions. The funding will be invested in reforms that help achieve two goals:

  • Keep hospital patients from getting injured or sicker. By the end of 2013, preventable hospital-acquired conditions would decrease by 40-percent compared to 2010. Achieving this goal would mean approximately 1.8 million fewer injuries to patients, with more than 60,000 lives saved over the next three years. 
  • Help patients heal without complications. By the end of 2013, preventable complications during a transition from one care setting to another would be decreased so that all hospital readmissions would be reduced by 20 percent compared to 2010. Achieving this goal would mean more than 1.6 million patients will recover from illness without suffering a preventable complication requiring re-hospitalization within 30 days of discharge.
The Partnership will target all forms of harm to patients but will start by directing participating hospitals to focus on nine types of medical errors and complications where the potential for dramatic reductions in harm rates has been demonstrated by pioneering hospitals and systems across the country.  Examples include preventing adverse drug reactions, pressure ulcers, childbirth complications and surgical site infections. The CMS Innovation Center will help hospitals adapt effective, evidence-based care improvements to target preventable patient injuries on a local level, developing innovative approaches to spreading and sharing strategies among public and private partners in all states.  Members of the partnership will identify specific steps they will take to reduce preventable injuries and complications in patient care. 

“With new tools provided by the Affordable Care Act, we can aggressively implement programs that will help hospitals reduce preventable errors,” said CMS Administrator Donald Berwick, MD. “We will provide hospitals with incentives to improve the quality of health care, and provide real assistance to medical professionals and hospitals to support their efforts to reduce harm.” 

For more information about the Partnership for Patients, visit www.HealthCare.gov/center/programs/partnership

For a fact sheet on today’s announcement, visit www.HealthCare.gov/news/factsheets/partnership04122011a.html. 

For more information about the Community-based Care Transitions Program funding opportunity, visit www.cms.gov/DemoProjectsEvalRpts/MD/itemdetail.asp?itemID=CMS1239313