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Medical Error Cost Calculator Riles AHA

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, July 26, 2013

The Leapfrog tool calculates costs of medical errors on the basis of medical error rates for patients who underwent surgery or who required care in an intensive care unit during their hospital stay. There is a spot in the tool for employers to "estimate how much you lose on employee productivity for every dollar spent on inpatient care."

Binder says that employers she represents are increasingly concerned about having to pay for medical mistakes, especially after a report in the Journal of the American Medical Association in April by Atul Gawande, MD, and others found that hospitals profit when surgeries go wrong.

Not only do they make more money through outlier payments, but private insurance companies pay much more than government payers for medical errors.

For example, when the complication occurred in a Medicare patient, the federal government reimbursed hospitals $3,629. But when it occurred in a commercially insured patient, the health plan paid $55,953.

In a press release Leapfrog released Thursday, Binder said that "every year, more than 180,000 Medicare beneficiaries die from hospital-acquired infections, errors, accidents and injuries."  


Cheryl Clark is senior quality editor and California correspondent for HealthLeaders Media. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists.
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