HPCI News: New Hospital Safety Grades Released

To: Members and Selected Others

Preamble: It has been 18 years since the landmark report by The National Academies of Science entitled To Err is Human – Building a Safer Health System was published. Yet, today widespread preventable medical errors continue in Iowa and across the U.S.

The Business Record ran a front page article entitled “An epidemic of ERRORS?” in its March 23th issue. It is based upon a report released in January by Clive-based Heartland Health Research Institute. The study found nearly 1 in 5 Iowa adults surveyed said they have experienced some degree of medical error in the last five years. These errors cost Iowans – and Iowa employers – a lot of money. This cost can be through higher health costs and lost productivity. That is beyond the harm and suffering to patients.

Nearly two-thirds of those who had experienced medical errors said they were “serious” and one-third of those responded affirmatively they had “serious” financial consequences from the error. The Leapfrog Group research indicates that about $8,000 of cost of each hospital admission is attributable to the cost of errors, injuries, accidents and infections in the United States. Hospitals that have earned an ‘A’ grade for safety have about $1,000 less cost per admission than hospitals that have a ‘C’ rating.

According to David P. Lind (author of the Iowa study), Iowans are looking for two major things:

  1. If an error occurs, tell me what happened. And tell me what you are going to do to make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else.
  2. Providers report all errors to a state based agency to establish a repository of medical errors. Quantifying the magnitude of the medical errors problem is an essential first step toward solving these safety issues.

Overall approach to improving quality and patient safety: “Of the three major approaches – regulation/accreditation, financial incentives, and public reporting – the most promising is public reporting.” – Lucian Leape, M.D. Harvard University.

Paul M. Pietzsch, MPH
HPCI - IHBA Office
4430 Ashley Park Drive
West Des Moines, Iowa 50265
(515) 778-6300

back to the top