Hospitals are making “substantial progress in improving safety,” according to a Dec. 1 report from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) that found a 17% decline in hospital-acquired conditions (HAC) from 2010 to 2014. That translates to 87,000 lives saved and nearly $20 billion in health care costs averted, according to the report.

HACs include adverse drug events, catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTI), central line-associated bloodstream infections, pressure ulcers and surgical site infections, among others.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) attributed the decline to “concerted attention by hospitals throughout the country to reduce adverse events,” such as activities related to the Partnership for Patients initiative and other Medicare quality incentive programs.

“Hospitals work diligently every day to provide the best possible care for the patients they serve,” said AHA President and CEO Rick Pollack, who noted that the ultimate objective is geting to zero. “These new numbers are impressive and show the great progress hospitals continue to make. While there is always more work to be done to improve patient safety, the collaborative efforts of hospitals and HHS have delivered great results that will continue to help the field on the quality improvement journey.”

According to AHRQ, the biggest reductions seen in the four-year span were among three of the most common HACs. Adverse drugs events fell by 16% and contributed to 40% of the overall reduction; pressure ulcers dropped 23% and represented 28% in the overall reduction; and CAUTIs dropped 38% and accounted for 16% of the overall reductions.