Survey Rates Hospital Safety, NEJM Examines Trend To Seek Medical Care Abroad

* “Leapfrog Hospital Quality and Safety Survey,” The Leapfrog Group: The survey evaluated 1,200 hospitals nationwide to determine the state of health care quality and safety in U.S. hospitals. Using the survey results, Leapfrog named 59 participating hospitals to the first Leapfrog Top Hospitals list. The survey found that nine in 10 hospitals have policies in place to avoid operations on the wrong part of the body and that eight in 10 hospitals require prescriptions to be reviewed by a pharmacist before being given to patients. The survey also found that nine in 10 hospitals did not meet standards for two high-risk surgeries and that five in 10 did not have a policy to ensure adequate nurse staffing (The Leapfrog Group, “Leapfrog Hospital Quality and Safety Survey,” 10/16).

* “America’s New Refugees: Seeking Affordable Surgery Offshore,” New England Journal of Medicine: In an NEJM perspective piece, Arnold Milstein, chief physician at Mercer Health and Benefits and medical director at the Pacific Group on Health, and Mark Smith, president and CEO of the California HealthCare Foundation, examine the trend of middle-income U.S. residents going to “low-income countries,” such as India and Thailand, to receive low-cost medical treatment at advanced hospitals abroad. The authors estimate that the trend represents less than 2% of U.S. health care spending; however, advanced hospitals in low-income countries are reporting higher numbers of U.S. patients. The authors write that U.S. physicians concerned about the trend can “denounce and attempt to restrict it” or support efforts to make domestic health care more efficient and accessible to low- and middle-income U.S. residents (Milstein/Smith, NEJM, 10/19).

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