Campaign for Better Care and Federal Government Launch Initiatives Encourage Better Hospital Care

The Campaign for Better Care (CBC), a campaign to ensure that health reform works for older adults with multiple health problems, launched an initiative this week focused on engaging patients and caregivers in improving hospital care to reduce preventable hospital-acquired illnesses and readmissions.

The campaign comes as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) launches its own initiative — Partnership for Patients — to engage stakeholders in the healthcare system to work toward making hospitals better and safer. 

One aspect of the CBC’s work will be to encourage hospitals to sign the Partnership for Patients pledge to make hospital care safer, better coordinated, and less costly. Hospitals that sign the pledge will be monitored for progress and urged to pursue lasting change.

While HHS focuses on stakeholders in the healthcare system, the Healthy Hospital Initiative will encourage hospitals and consumer groups to do more to include consumers in the decision-making process, with the aim of decreasing health disparities.

The CBC says that “hospitals can be risky places for patients,” citing statistics like:

  • One in 20 patients gets an infection each year while receiving medical care.
  • About 1.7 million health care associated infections occur in hospitals each year and lead to about 100,000 deaths.
  • People of color are disproportionately affected by errors and avoidable complications like health care associated infections.
  • Medical costs of preventable hospital acquired infections are comparable to the medical costs of pulmonary diseases ($4.2 billion), diabetes mellitus with complications ($4.5 billion), and stroke ($6.7 billion).

According to the CBC, efforts to improve procedures for admitting and discharging patients, provide better follow-up care, and utilize health information technology will reduce hospital readmissions by up to 12 percent.

“Reducing medical errors is critical to reducing health disparities for communities of color and people with low incomes,” said Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “The Obama administration and Secretary Sebelius should be commended for launching The National Patient Safety Initiative, and we urge them to hold hospitals, clinicians and other stakeholders in the health care system accountable for meeting the initiative’s goals of reducing medical errors and saving lives.”