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Leapfrog Patient-Safety Standards a Stretch for Most Hospitals
Campaign Raises Awareness of Patient Safety, but Lack of Financial Incentives Hinders Progress
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ASHINGTON, D.C.— While the Leapfrog Groups ambitious campaign to improve patient safety in hospitals has sparked national awareness, few hospitals are close to meeting the groups standards for computerized prescriptions, specially trained intensive care unit (ICU) physicians and volume thresholds for certain high-risk procedures, according to a study released today by the Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC).
"Leapfrog has clearly helped put patient safety on hospital radar screens, and many hospitals are trying to meet the spirit if not the letter of the Leapfrog standards by substituting less expensive alternatives," said Paul B. Ginsburg, Ph.D., president of HSC, a nonpartisan policy research organization funded exclusively by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
"Many factors, including a lack of financial incentives, are hindering hospitals adoption of the Leapfrog patient-safety practices," Ginsburg said.
Formed in 2000 by the Business Roundtable, an association of Fortune 500 CEOs, to stimulate breakthrough improvements—or leaps—in patient safety, Leapfrog has championed three hospital patient-safety practices:
The studys findings are detailed in a new HSC Issue Brief—Leapfrog Patient-Safety Standards Are a Stretch for Most Hospitals. Based on site visits to 12 nationally representative communities in 2002-03, the study examines hospital patient-safety activities in Boston; Cleveland; Greenville, S.C.; Indianapolis; Lansing, Mich.; Little Rock, Ark.; Miami; northern New Jersey; Orange County, Calif.; Phoenix; Seattle; and Syracuse, N.Y. Additionally, the study used data from an HSC patient-safety survey fielded during the site visits and Leapfrogs public survey data from November 2000 to April 2003. The study was co-authored by Kelly Devers, Ph.D., a former HSC health researcher and now an associate professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, and Gigi Liu, a former HSC research assistant and now a medical student at Stanford University.
Other key study findings include:
The study concluded that efforts to improve patient safety are likely to be more successful if private and public purchasers collaborate to create strong incentives—particularly financial incentives—for hospitals to improve patient safety. The public sector also could complement Leapfrog efforts through collaboration on research, information technology, reporting and purchasing approaches.
The Center for Studying Health System Change is a nonpartisan policy research organization committed to providing objective and timely insights on the nations changing health system to help inform policy makers and contribute to better health care policy. HSC, based in Washington, D.C., is funded exclusively by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and is affiliated with Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.