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Changes in local health care markets affect national patient safety project
Date:6/20/2008

A national patient safety initiative involving major corporate employers and employer health care coalitions may set common goals, but success relies greatly on regional health care players and local market factors for actual implementation, says a recent study.

"While employers and coalitions set critical goals nationwide to improve patient safety, actual success depends greatly on individual hospitals and their characteristics, and intricate parts of the goals themselves," said lead author Dennis Scanlon, professor of health policy and administration at Penn State.

The Leapfrog Group, composed of more than 100 Fortune 500 companies and other large employers, formed in 2000 to reduce preventable medical mistakes by giving consumers and health care purchasers information about patient safety. The group's initiative originally focused on three specific areas of improvement, or "leaps": computerized entry of physician medication orders; hiring intensive care specialists in hospital intensive care units; and referring patients who need procedures, i.e. surgery, to hospitals with significant experience at achieving quality outcomes.

The idea was that local employers who provide health care to employees would encourage area hospitals in meeting Leapfrog standards to improve patient safety. The hospitals would report safety information publicly, which would attract employee patients. Employers would encourage employees to use Leapfrog-compliant hospitals. Overall, the number of medical errors would decline, patient health would improve and costs could possibly stabilize or go down.

Health coalitions, including the National Business Coalition on Health, were brought into the initiative to establish regional markets that would coordinate the hospitals and work together to achieve the Leapfrog goals. Between 2001 and 2006, 31 regional markets containing 57 percent of all urban hospitals in the United States were established.

Scanlon, Jon Christi
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Contact: Vicki Fong
vfong@psu.edu
814-865-9481
Penn State
Source:Eurekalert

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