Leapfrog Group Plan Urges Quality Care, Elimination of Medical Errors
The Leapfrog Group, a consortium of 96 large health care purchasers, is announcing a plan today to encourage hospitals to reduce medical errors by "steer[ing] employees to hospitals that excel in three areas deemed to promote patient safety," the Wall Street Journal reports. The group -- which includes large corporations as well as state and federal government agencies and each year spends $52 billion on health benefits for about 28 million employees -- "flex[es] enormous muscle in the health care system," the Journal reports. It will steer its members' employees to hospitals that computerize doctors' medication orders, employ "specialized" doctors in ICUs and offer "extensive experience" in certain medical procedures. Leapfrog will post on its Web site the findings from its recent survey of 250 U.S. hospitals' use of the three standards. It plans to offer the survey to an additional 1,000 hospitals this year. The "theory [behind the plan] is that better care, not cheaper care, will save money in the long run," the Journal reports. Dale Whitney, corporate health care manager at United Parcel Service, a Leapfrog member, said, "Every time a mistake is made at a hospital, we pay for that." But some hospitals "complain that perfectly safe institutions could be hurt simply because they don't adhere to the three Leapfrog principles," the Journal reports. Carmela Coyle, the American Hospital Association's senior vice president for policy, said, "The absence of a hospital engaging in the three initiatives doesn't mean a hospital is of lower quality" (Martinez, Wall Street Journal, 1/17).
In related news, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations has announced that it will become a "formal partner" in the Leapfrog group and will contribute input to the group's patient safety initiatives. Dr. Dennis O'Leary, JCAHO president, said, "The Joint Commission welcomes this opportunity to collaborate with the purchaser community in support of patient safety" (JCAHO release, 1/16).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.