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Employers Ask Hospitals To Report Status of Three Standards That Reduce Preventable Mistakes

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In California, the Safety "Leaps" Could Save One Life Per Hour

San Francisco, CA, July 9, 2001 – Each year, as many as 98,000 Americans die from preventable mistakes made in hospitals. In response, The Leapfrog Group, a national coalition of major employers and public purchasers, is asking U.S. hospitals to voluntarily report whether they have put in place or plan to implement three "leaps" in the prevention of errors that researchers believe can save up to 58,000 lives a year. The online survey on the status of the standards is available to all hospitals but targets non-rural facilities.

The Pacific Business Group on Health (PBGH), California's largest health care purchaser coalition, is leading the Leapfrog rollout in California. PBGH members and other employers will use survey results to recognize leading hospitals and to educate their employees about how to use this information when choosing hospitals.

"We've contacted more than 350 non-rural hospitals in California, urging them to complete the survey," said Peter Lee, president of PBGH. "Consumers need this information so they can make informed decisions about where to receive treatment."

The three patient-safety standards endorsed by Leapfrog are:

  • Computer physician order entry—Eliminates medication errors by having doctors in hospitals order tests and prescription drugs by computer instead of hand-written orders.
  • Evidence–based hospital referral—Encourages patients to go to hospitals with better outcomes and, when outcome results are not available, uses volume of selected procedures where supported by science.
  • Intensive care unit (ICU) physician staffing—Reduces ICU deaths over 15 percent by having ICUs staffed by physicians certified in critical– care medicine.

Research conducted by John D. Birkmeyer, MD, Dartmouth Medical School, indicates that these three improvements could save up to 58,300 lives per year, and prevent 522,000 medication errors, if implemented by all non-rural hospitals in the United States. In California, this translates to more than 7,000 lives saved and 63,000 medication errors prevented every year-one life and seven errors every hour.

The not–for–profit Sutter Health network has already endorsed the Leapfrog initiative and is encouraging its 25 hospitals to complete the survey. "It will take time to accomplish all of the Leapfrog standards for eliminating preventable mistakes," said Van Johnson, president and CEO of Sutter Health, "but the standards are scientifically valid and worth pursuing."

"CalPERS supports the Leapfrog recommendations both as a purchaser for public employees and as a member of PBGH," said Nancy Welsh, chief of program development for the California Public Employees' Retirement System Health. "We believe access to this information is important for our members to make informed and wise health care decisions. It also serves to recognize those hospitals that are working to reduce preventable health care mistakes."

In the survey, hospitals are asked whether they have implemented the standards or have made any plans to do so. Hospitals will be credited for interim steps toward implementation. The survey will end mid-September. Results will be published on the Leapfrog and PBGH Websites, and promoted by many individual Leapfrog purchasers.

"Many hospitals are putting in place new systems to address patient safety gaps," said Lee. "With Leapfrog, we look forward to recognizing the efforts of these hospitals as they work to reduce preventable mistakes."

The Leapfrog Group is a growing consortium of 82 Fortune 500 companies and other large private and public health care purchasers, providing benefits to 25 million Americans with more than $45 billion in health care expenditures. To learn more about the Leapfrog Group, which is sponsored nationally by The Business Roundtable, visit www.leapfroggroup.org.

Pacific Business Group on Health (PBGH), a non–profit coalition of 44 major health care purchasers, is dedicated to improving health care quality while moderating cost. Its members annually spend more than $3 billion to provide health coverage to approximately 3 million employees, retirees and their families. PBGH seeks to promote health plan and provider accountability and provide consumers with standardized, comparable data to make the best health care decisions at all levels of care. PBGH also operates PacAdvantage (formerly the Health Insurance Plan of California), a small group purchasing pool providing health insurance to more than 10,000 small employers in California.

Clark Miller
Senior Communications Manager
Pacific Business Group on Health
Telephone: (415) 615–6302
E–mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


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