Mar 13, 2024



What Declining Patient Safety Means for Healthcare Marketers

The nation’s hospitals continue to face pandemic-driven challenges–ranging from staffing shortages to skyrocketing supply costs–that undermine their ability to provide safe, high quality care. Meanwhile, consumer expectations are rising, with over half of U.S. patients reporting that they’re more concerned with their quality of care today than before the pandemic. 

According to new research from Healthgrades, this heightened concern is far from misplaced. Patient safety is declining following decades of continuous improvement, with a near-20% jump in adverse safety events from 2021 to 2022 alone. Most of this increase has occurred among the nation’s lower-performing hospitals, where patients have a far greater chance of experiencing a negative outcome than if treated at a facility with a top-rated safety culture. From 2020 to 2022, patients treated at hospitals that received a 2024 Patient Safety Excellence Award™ from Healthgrades have a significantly lower chance of experiencing one of the four leading patient safety events:*

  • In-hospital fall resulting in fracture (51% less likely)
  • Collapsed lung due to a procedure or surgery in or around the chest (56% less likely)
  • Pressure sores or bed sores acquired in the hospital (67% less likely)
  • Catheter-related bloodstream infections acquired in the hospital (71% less likely)

Among the nation’s leading hospitals, patient safety events have either remained steady or improved slightly, deepening the performance gap between the highest- and lowest-performing facilities. Overall, U.S. hospitals could have avoided over 97,000 patient safety events during the same three-year period if they all performed similarly to the 2024 Patient Safety Excellence Award recipients.*

Where you are treated matters, and consumers increasingly prioritize quality measures when making decisions about their healthcare. In fact, 80% of Americans report feeling more confident in their decision to seek case at a hospital that has a quality award. As more consumers look to hospital quality awards to help guide them to top-rated care, hospitals must put quality at the forefront to ensure they reach the right audience at the right time.

License your Healthgrades achievement to promote your outstanding quality of care and drive qualified patients to your network.

*Statistics are calculated from Healthgrades Patient Safety Ratings and Excellence Award Methodology, which is based primarily on AHRQ technical specifications (Version 2023.0.1) to MedPAR data from approximately 4,500 hospitals for years 2020 through 2022 and represent three-year estimates for Medicare patients only. To be