Businesses address medical errors

January 1, 2001

Pharmaceutical Representative

In an effort to reduce medical errors, The Business Roundtable unveiled a market-based effort to improve patient safety across the nation.

In an effort to reduce medical errors, The Business Roundtable unveiled a market-based effort to improve patient safety across the nation.

The BRT's new program, called The Leapfrog Group, is a consortium of Fortune 500 companies and other large private and public healthcare purchasers. Under Leapfrog, employers have agreed to base their purchase of healthcare on principles encouraging more stringent patient safety measures.

"The number of tragic deaths brought about by preventable medical errors is too striking for those of us in the business community to ignore," said Lewis B. Campbell, chairman of The Business Roundtable Health and Retirement Task Force. "Coming together with other employers through The Leapfrog Group, we feel confident in our ability to make a difference by harnessing and leveraging our healthcare purchasing power. It's a straightforward business approach to tackling a complex problem – one that we must undertake to ensure our employees, retirees and their families receive the highest-quality and safest care available."

Three measures

The Leapfrog Group has identified three initial hospital safety measures that will be the focus of healthcare provider performance comparisons, as well as hospital recognition and reward. Based on independent scientific evidence, the initial set of safety measures includes computer physician order entry, evidence-based hospital referral and intensive care unit staffing by physicians trained in critical care medicine. Research conducted by 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.

"Members of The Leapfrog Group have set out to reduce preventable medical errors by changing the way they purchase healthcare," said Suzanne Delbanco, executive director of The Leapfrog Group. "By encouraging healthcare providers to adopt three proven safety measures, thousands of Americans can be protected from disability and death."

The Leapfrog Group member companies have all agreed to adhere to the following four purchasing principles in buying healthcare for their enrollees:


•Â Educating and informing enrollees about patient safety and the importance of comparing healthcare provider performance, with initial emphasis on the Leapfrog safety measures.


•Â Recognizing and rewarding healthcare providers for major advances in protecting patients from preventable medical errors.


•Â Holding health plans accountable for implementing the Leapfrog purchasing principles.


•Â Building the support of benefits consultants and brokers to utilize and advocate the Leapfrog purchasing principles with all of their clients.

Current pharmaceutical company members of The Business Roundtable's Leapfrog Group include the following: Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly and Co.; Whitehouse Station, NJ-based Merck & Co. Inc.; New York-based Pfizer Inc.; Kenilworth, NJ-based Schering-Plough Corp.; and Philadelphia-based SmithKline Beecham. PR

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