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AHA: Leapfrog calculator for cost of hospital errors 'seriously flawed'

August 5, 2013

In a letter to the editor published today in Modern Healthcare, AHA said the Leapfrog Group’s online calculator for the cost of hospital errors lacks the rigor needed to draw accurate conclusions about the safety and costs of hospital care. “The tool seeks to identify additional costs attributable to hospital errors and assumes hospitals with higher grades on the Leapfrog [Hospital Safety] scorecard have lower costs,” writes Nancy Foster, AHA vice president of quality and patient safety policy. "Leapfrog provides no evidence demonstrating that a high Leapfrog grade is correlated to lower costs. Moreover, the tool's methodology treats several very different kinds of cost data – total cost, charges incurred and estimated additional cost – as if each represents additional costs that are attributable to medical errors. Lastly, Leapfrog fails to recognize that patients with multiple medical conditions are more likely to require additional treatments thereby reaching an incorrect conclusion about what makes caring for such individuals more costly. Without additional reference points or validation, the methodology of this new tool is seriously flawed and provides unreliable information for purchasers and patients.”