WASHINGTON — Wide-ranging efforts to make hospital care safer have resulted in an estimated 50,000 fewer patients dying because of avoidable errors in the past three years, according to a new report presented by government and industry officials on Tuesday.

Hospitals reported 1.3 million fewer hospital-acquired infections in all between 2011-2013 compared to the rate of mistakes that hospitals made in 2010, according to the report from the Department of Health and Human Services. That represented a 17 percent drop in hospital errors from 2010, but about 12 percent of all hospitalizations as of 2013 still experienced an adverse event during the course of care.

The reduction of these avoidable incidents – such as falls, pressure ulcers, adverse drug events and more – meant $12 billion in savings to the health-care system between 2011 and 2013, according to HHS.

A widely cited Institute of Medicine report from 1999 estimated that hospital errors kill as many as 98,000 people each year. Government officials said they couldn’t exactly explain what’s behind the drop in hospital errors, but they gave broad credit to increasing public and private efforts to reduce patient harm.

They pointed to new financial incentives for hospitals to keep patients healthier – such as a Medicare penalty on providers that experience excessive readmissions – and a three-year-old public-private initiative, known as the Partnership for Patients, designed to spread best practices for making hospital care safer. Some health insurers in recent years have also stopped paying for hospitals’ mistakes.

“We made major investments in quality improvements,” said a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services senior official on Monday. “We made investments in the research and understanding of patient safety.”

Fewer adverse drug events and pressure ulcers accounted for about two-thirds of the drop in hospital mistakes over the past four years, according to the HHS report. About $8 billion of the described $12 billion savings occurred in just 2013, the report said.

“The improvements we’ve seen in the last two years seem much larger than anything that’s been published by any researchers” during prior years, said a senior HHS official.