"New research from the Journal of Patient Safety, a peer-reviewed journal, estimates that as many as 440,000 Americans are dying annually from these preventable errors. That's equivalent to the population of a city like Miami or Oakland, and it puts medical errors as the number three cause of death in the United States."
The score is divided into two parts. There are 15 structural measures, such as whether the hospital has a full-time intensivist in the ICU, and 13 preventable adverse outcome measures, such as a patient death or serious injury due to an intravascular air embolism or a retained surgical object.
The report includes two new preventable outcome measures—surgical site infections resulting from colon procedures and catheter-associated urinary tract infections.
One bright spot of improvement, Binder says, is that more hospitals have adopted computerized physician order entry (CPOE) systems, incentivized by government incentive payments, and which she says which helped improved their scores.
Because of Leapfrog's safety scores, which were launched in June of 2012, and every six months since, more hospitals are contributing data to Leapfrog's annual survey, she says. And even those hospitals who complained the loudest at their initial scores are now trying to improve.
"We're building relationships with hospitals that we never had before, and in many cases with hospitals that didn't do well. And that has made a big difference because we're seeing results," she said during an interview. "We're not doing this as a punitive thing, but because we want to protect the public. We want to give hospitals a reason to improve."