Monday, December 7, 2009

Perspectives: The Answer Is With Nurses, Leapfrog CEO Says

To Err Is Human Blog Series Logo

This post is part of our two-week series commemorating the 10-year anniversary of the seminal IOM Report "To Err Is Human." To see all posts in the series, please click here.

If you want to know if a hospital is safe, look at how much nurses lead efforts to reduce errors and have the ability to take charge of the decisions the keep patients safer. That, according to Leapfrog Group CEO Leah Binder, is the key to keeping patients safe and preventing medical errors.

Leapfrog Group, an employer consortium that seeks to use its purchasing power to improve the quality of care in hospitals and the health care system, has been pushing for better information that will help patients make informed decisions about hospitals and providers. It was the 1999 Institute of Medicine report on medical errors that gave the Leapfrog group its initial focus of reducing preventable medical mistakes. The report recommended that large employers take a more direct role in pushing for safer care.

“Nurses know what needs to happen. They know the safety answers,” says Binder, who once served as public policy director at the National League for Nursing.

But too often, they don’t have the influence in a hospital to change a system and make things safer for the patients. “That’s the role nurses need to take on. Nurses should be very critical of the real lack of progress on patient safety,” Binder maintains.

One way to make that happen is for nurses to take a strong stand on the issue of transparency, which Binder believes is sorely lacking in today’s health care system. Binder calls for independent, unbiased, transparent reports about medical errors, providers and hospital quality as a solution. “We have smoke and mirrors today. What we have today is some information that isn’t all that interesting or relevant to consumers. We need information that allows consumers to choose between hospitals and providers.”

Another step in the right direction will be reforming payment incentives to reward both doctors and nurses for improving patient safety, she says.

Click here to hear more from Leah Binder on quality and transparency from an interview with Modern Healthcare.

1 comment:

  1. As a nurse, nurse practitioner and nursing educator for 25 years I think the reasons nurses don't take on their professional responsibility to protect their patients is due to a long term history of patriarchy and feminine oppression. Nurses not speaking up in the interests of patients and protecting doctors and administrators and not patients is as old as nursing and will go on until nurses accept they are a profession and not second class citizens and they take on their much needed role of fearless patient advocates.

    Lynn R. Parker, Author
    What Did the Doctor Just Say?