News | March 17, 2008

New Study Shows Five Consecutive Years of Improvement in Patient Safety At Hospitals

March 18, 2008 - A new study by Thomson Healthcare shows clear improvement on a composite of eight patient safety measures affecting Medicare patients treated in U.S. hospitals from 2001 through 2005.

The highest performance levels in patient safety were achieved by the 100 hospitals in the study that delivered the highest balanced performance across quality, efficiency, and financial stability. If all hospitals had performed at the level of these leading hospitals on the eight patient safety measures, they would have saved $253 million and 7,914 lives during the time period the study examined.

“Employers, health plans, and hospitals need to take note that we have entered a new phase in driving transformation of the healthcare industry,” said Jean Chenoweth, senior vice president in the Center for Healthcare Improvement at Thomson Healthcare. “Hospitals setting new levels of patient safety are those with the highest balanced scores across quality, efficiency, and financial performance - suggesting that payers that focus narrowly on cost alone, or any other single area of performance, are less likely to achieve the highest levels of improvement. Employers and payers need sophisticated, collaborative approaches to drive higher value from their hospital networks.”

The study, “Trends in Patient Safety Adverse Outcomes and 100 Top Hospitals Performance 2000-2005,” examined changes in patient safety scores in Medicare populations for eight patient safety indicators established by the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

“Improvement was demonstrated in three separate hospital groups: the 100 highest performers on the Thomson balanced scorecard, 100 hospitals that improved the fastest on the Thomson balanced scorecard, and all other peer hospitals,” said David A. Foster, chief scientist at Thomson Healthcare and author of the study.

A composite patient safety score was one of the criteria used to rank hospitals on the Thomson balanced scorecard, representing one-eighth of the total weight of the performance measures used to establish the rankings. The composite patient safety measure was not in itself a principal determinant of the rankings.

This research was performed as a part of the annual Thomson 100 Top Hospitals National Benchmarks for Success study, which examines changing performance levels in U.S. hospitals and objectively identifies 100 benchmark hospitals based on their overall organizational performance.

The 2007 winners from the 15th edition of the study were announced in the March 17 issue of Modern Healthcare. To view a list of the winning hospitals, go to
The study ranks hospitals based on their performance in eight key clinical and financial areas - risk-adjusted mortality, risk-adjusted complications, patient safety composite, average core measures scores, severity-adjusted average length of stay, expense per adjusted discharge, profit from operations, and cash-to-debt ratio.

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