California Hospitals ‘In Line’ with Nation in Leapfrog Group Patient Safety Survey
California hospitals fall "in line" with hospitals nationwide in meeting certain patient safety standards, according to a new survey conducted by the Leapfrog Group, a coalition of more than 90 large health care purchasers, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The Leapfrog Group conducted a survey of about 300 U.S. hospitals focusing whether they used three patient safety practices -- computer physician order entry, evidence-based hospital referral and ICU staffing by dedicated physicians. One hundred fifty California hospitals participated in the survey, and 52% met at least one of the three patient safety measures, compared to 53% for hospitals nationwide. The survey provided results for 44% of the 338 California hospitals asked to participate. According to the survey, 4% percent of California hospitals had a computerized system in place for ordering medications, compared to 3.3% nationwide. Twenty-seven percent of California hospitals surveyed said that they plan to install a system by 2004. In addition, the survey found that 14 California hospitals have intensivists employed in their ICUs, and 13 "plan to introduce them" (Colliver, San Francisco Chronicle, 1/17).
The survey also examined the "practice-makes-perfect theory" of hospital quality, which counts the number of times a hospital performs certain high-risk procedures (Fong, San Diego Union Tribune, 1/17). The procedures included coronary bypass surgeries, angioplasties, abdominal aortic aneurysm repairs, surgery to remove a blockage in the carotid artery and esophageal cancer surgeries, as well as the number of infants requiring neonatal intensive care treated in the hospitals. The survey compared the results to an "optimal threshold number" (San Francisco Chronicle, 1/17). Hospital experts consider the measure the "most controversial" in the survey. Peter Lee, president of the Pacific Business Group on Health, an employer coalition, said that the number of risky procedures performed in hospitals only serves as a "proxy" for actual results, and "not always a fair one." The Orange County Register reports that several of the state's hospitals "questioned the validity" of the survey, which listed 23 of the 32 Orange County hospitals asked to participate as "unwilling to report." Tenet Healthcare spokesperson Harry Anderson said, "We support the overall goals of Leapfrog, but we don't believe that their initial three 'leaps' are supported by significant scientific evidence to dictate that they be priorities at this point." Tenet's 10 local hospitals did not participate in the survey. According to Anderson, they "were pursuing quality and safety initiatives other than [Leapfrog's] three -- and the survey did not leave room for that kind of response" (Wolfson, Orange County Register, 1/17). Mark Laret, CEO of the University of California-San Francisco Medical Center, described the survey as an "initial, relatively crude effort" but a "good start" in measuring patient safety and hospital quality (San Francisco Chronicle, 1/17).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.