The Leapfrog Group announced it has accepted the resignation of Dr. Charles Denham, recently named in a U.S. Department of Justice settlement with CareFusion Corp.
“Our Board was concerned with Dr. Denham’s failure to reveal to the National Quality Forum or Leapfrog his potentially compromising relationship with CareFusion, which demonstrated a lack of transparency inconsistent with our organization’s core values and mission. For this reason, Leapfrog has accepted Dr. Denham’s resignation from his voluntary post with Leapfrog,” said Leah Binder, president and CEO of Leapfrog. To demonstrate its commitment to maintaining processes that are transparent and free from conflicts of interest, Binder also announced that Leapfrog has partnered with the Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality at Johns Hopkins Medicine for a scientific review of the NQF-endorsed safe practices and Computerized Physician Order Entry (CPOE) evaluation tool on the Leapfrog Hospital Survey.
In 2006, Dr. Charles Denham was appointed as Chair of Leapfrog’s Safe Practices Committee, a panel modeled after the National Quality Forum’s (NQF) committee on which Dr. Denham also served. The position represented a voluntary commitment with no financial or contractual relationship between Dr. Denham and Leapfrog.
Dr. Denham also serves as the Chairman and Founder of the Texas Medical Institute of Technology (TMIT). TMIT updated the CPOE Evaluation Tool used on the Leapfrog Hospital Survey in 2010, at no cost to Leapfrog. The CPOE Evaluation Tool was developed in 2006 by industry experts Dr. David Classen and Dr. David Bates, and originally funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). The CPOE tool has been an important part of the Leapfrog Hospital Survey over the last seven years and there is no indication the tool has been impacted by the Department of Justice revelations.
Leapfrog includes several NQF-endorsed safe practices on its annual hospital survey and publically reports on these practices. However, Leapfrog discontinued the use of the surgical site infection safe practice in 2008, which was highlighted in the Justice Department ruling.
“I have complete confidence in Leapfrog and know they will ensure their processes are unbiased and transparent,” says Dr. Peter Pronovost, Director of the Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality at Johns Hopkins Medicine. “Like Leapfrog, I was not aware of any relationship between Dr. Denham and CareFusion. The failure of Dr. Denham to disclose his conflicts violated the trust of the patient safety community; the field now needs to come together, and mature its conflicts of interest policies.”
In addition to severing ties with Dr. Denham, Leapfrog has taken the following actions:
Formally requested NQF perform a thorough scientific review of its full slate of endorsed safe practices.
Partnered with the Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality at Johns Hopkins Medicine to perform an expert review of the NQF-endorsed safe practices and CPOE Evaluation Tool planned for the 2014 Leapfrog Hospital Survey.
Initiated an organization-wide update to its conflict of interest disclosures including all board members, committees, management, and expert panels. Prior disclosures were filed by the board in December 2013.
Directly requested from Dr. Denham that TMIT remove any language from its website implying Leapfrog endorsement of “test beds,” as this is not authorized. Further, have TMIT remove any reference to a Leapfrog Hospital Survey “flight simulator,” as this authorization was only given in 2006 and expired in 2007.