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Medicare Costs Higher Among Hospitals With High Rates of Adverse Safety Events

Hospitals with higher than average rates of adverse events, such as falls or medication events, are more likely to have higher costs for treatment of certain cardiac conditions and pneumonia, according to an AHRQ-funded study published in JAMA Network Open. The study examined 2011-2016 Medicare data from about 2,200 hospitals and nearly 45,000 patients with conditions common among older adults. Every 1 percent increase in hospitals’ adverse event rates was associated with an average cost increase of $103 for heart attack, $100 for heart failure and $152 for pneumonia per discharge, for all discharges in these three patient groups. For example, for every 1,000 heart attack patients in the higher adverse event rate hospitals, the average cost increase would be approximately $103,000. Authors said the findings support assumptions that higher adverse event rates add costs to patient care and may reflect the quality of hospital care, and that investment in reducing adverse events may provide substantial savings in Medicare costs.

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