One in five hospitals surveyed in a recent Leapfrog Group report and analyzed by Castlight Health indicated an unwillingness to adopt policies to address events that should never occur in a hospital. Leapfrog spokesperson Erica Mobley called this result “disappointing.”
“This is one measure where performance has remained stagnant for several years. All hospitals should be able to commit to having such a policy in place,” she said.
The survey, conducted in 2014 with 1,501 participating hospitals by Leapfrog, a nonprofit health services quality ratings organization, also uncovered troubling trends in infection prevention. One in six hospitals surveyed reported higher rates of infection for central line infection and one in 10 reported problematic rates for catheter-associated urinary tract infections.
In addition to failing to adopt methods that would correct practices that lead to medical errors, the survey studied whether hospitals meet Leapfrog’s guidelines for safe practices. Although as many as 20% of urban hospitals met the guidelines and showed yearly improvements, rural hospitals continued to lag behind.
On a more positive note, the same survey showed overall reported improvements in the use of automated physician and medication order management systems, rates for early elective deliveries, and the lowest rate for cesarean procedures since the survey was initiated in 2010 (3%). Some experts believe implementing these practices will reduce medical error rates.
Leapfrog and others continue to call for greater transparency regarding medical error. In related research recently published in BMJ Quality and Safety, investigators found that patient engagement in hospital improvement measures may reduce the frequency of malpractice suits.
Ann Latner, JD, a former criminal defense attorney, is a freelance medical writer in Port Washington, N.Y.