Leapfrog Group To Launch Voluntary Survey of Hospital Safety Practices
The Leapfrog Group, a coalition of large U.S. businesses focused on improving health care quality, on Monday will launch a new, comprehensive hospital rating survey that is ultimately designed to help patients better assess hospital safety, the Wall Street Journal reports. The Leapfrog Group began evaluating hospitals four years ago based on three quality indicators: investment in computerized physician order entry, use of intensivists in critical care units and medical procedure volume. Critics of the system have said that only a small percentage of U.S. hospitals have invested in CPOE, and the group does not take into account outside factors, such as a shortage of intensivists. The new survey is an "acknowledgement" that the three quality indicators from the previous system, "though still important, are too limited to fully inform consumers and provide enough financial incentive for hospitals to adopt them," according to Suzanne Delbanco, executive director of Leapfrog, the Journal reports. The new survey will score hospitals on 27 new measures -- in addition to the existing three -- and give the hospital an overall score. Measures will range from "nuts-and-bolts" error-prevention guidelines to general measures such as whether hospital officials have succeeded in creating a "culture of safety," the Journal reports. The Leapfrog Group will post the first rankings by state on its Web site in July, and hospitals will be able to update their survey monthly thereafter. The survey will initially include about 1,300 of the 2,500 urban acute care hospitals in the 24 areas it surveys, and the group has also invited rural hospitals and pediatric hospitals to fill out the survey.
Because the Leapfrog Group's survey is voluntary, some question whether the results will be reliable. In addition, hospital groups have expressed some concern about the new ranking system, noting that filling out the survey might be a burden to hospitals and the information provided might not help consumers enough to make informed decisions, according to Susan Van Gelder, senior vice president of the Federation of American Hospitals. Nancy Foster, senior associate director of health policy at the American Hospital Association said the survey seems to concentrate too much on measuring processes instead of "whether we did the right thing for the patient." However, she added that hospitals share a "common interest with Leapfrog, to drive quality and safety forward" (Landro, Wall Street Journal, 4/22).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.