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Medical Error Cost Calculator Riles AHA

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, July 26, 2013

An online tool from the Leapfrog Group, which determines the "hidden surcharge" or costs of a hospital's medical errors, employs a methodology that is "seriously flawed," says the American Hospital Association.

The Leapfrog Group's new "Hidden Surcharge Calculator," a web-based tool, enables employers to add up how much of their health premium dollars go to manage hospital medical errors that harm their employees. The tool determines the costs based on the safety track records of each hospital where their workers received care.

"Employers already know they're spending a lot of money on hospitals when their employees need acute care," says Leah Binder, Leapfrog President and CEO.

"But what they don't know is that a certain percentage of that money they're spending is avoidable. And what we're saying is 'Wait a minute. Here's some money that's sitting there, and you can actually address this issue'" by choosing safer hospitals. Otherwise, she says, the amount a hospital spends to correct medical errors is buried in the overall premium cost.

"What employers need to know is that they are, in fact, paying millions of dollars for errors and accidents" that occur in acute care settings.

Employers simply enter the number of admissions at each hospital required for all the employees they cover, then look up and enter the letter-grade safety score Leapfrog assigns to each of 2,500 hospitals.

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