Insurer, hospital associations, charity join for $6 million hospital care improvement

The state's largest for-profit health insurer, three regional hospital associations and a national heath-focused charity announced today a three-year, $6 million project designed to improve the quality of hospital care in California.

The project, Patient Safety First, brings together Anthem Blue Cross, the Hospital Association of Southern California, the Hospital Association of San Diego and Imperial Counties, the Hospital Association of Northern and Central California, and the National Health Foundation.

The participants noted in a joint statement that the Institute of Medicine has reported that as many as 98,000 patients in American hospitals die of avoidable medical errors each year.

"The human cost of these errors cannot be calculated. The cost to the health care system has been estimated at upwards of 11 billion dollars each year," the statement said.

The new partnership is unprecedented in its scale and ambition, the statement said, adding that hospitals throughout California "will be linked in a coordinated effort to improve patient safety through the sharing and implementation of best practices to eliminate hospital-acquired infections and improve patient care."

The project's three initial areas of focus will be perinatal care, the reduction of sepsis, and the reduction of infections contracted in hospital intensive care units, including ventilator-associated pneumonia, central line blood stream infections, and catheter-associated urinary tract infections, the statement said.

"Each of us who works in health care recognizes that, to solve the issues we face in providing affordable access to quality care, health plans, hospitals and physicians must find effective ways of working together," said Anthem Blue Cross President Leslie Margolin.

The project partners said they will collect data from participating hospitals, "and benchmarks will be established to enable the success of the program in monitoring and reporting on lives saved, quality outcomes and cost reductions."