Slow Progress on Meeting Hospital Safety Standards

Learning from the Leapfrog

In response to the Institute of Medicine’s To Err Is Human report on the prevalence of medical errors, the Leapfrog Group, an organization that promotes hospital safety and quality, established a voluntary hospital survey assessing compliance with several safety standards.

Using data from the period 2002–2007, the researchers conducted the first longitudinal assessment of how hospitals in specific cities and states initially selected by Leapfrog progressed on public reporting and adoption of standards requiring the use of computerized drug order entry and hospital intensivists.

Overall, little progress was observed. Reporting rates were unchanged over the study period. Adoption of computerized drug order entry increased from 2.94 percent to 8.13 percent, and intensivist staffing increased from 14.74 percent to 21.40 percent. These findings should not be viewed as an indictment of Leapfrog but may reflect various challenges. For example, hospitals faced no serious threats to their market share if purchasers shifted business away from those that either didn’t report data or didn’t meet the standards. In the absence of mandatory reporting, policy makers might need to act to address these challenges to ensure improvements in quality.

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