Patient Safety Watchdog The Leapfrog Group Funded for National Initiative on Preventing Harm from Diagnostic Error

January 28, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. --The Leapfrog Group, a national watchdog organization of employers and other purchasers focused on patient safety and quality, today announced Recognizing Excellence in Diagnosis, a new national initiative to publicly report and recognize hospitals for preventing patient harm due to diagnostic errors. Developed in collaboration with The Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine (SIDM) and key experts, the project is funded with a two-year grant of $1.2 million by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

According to a landmark 2015 National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report, Improving Diagnosis in Health Care, diagnostic errors are among the top 10 causes of death nationally, accounting for nearly 40,000 to 80,000 deaths per year. An estimated 12 million Americans will experience a diagnostic error in outpatient care annually and another 250,000 will be harmed by a diagnostic error as a hospital inpatient.

“We know diagnostic error is exceptionally harmful to patients, but until now the issue has been overlooked as a patient safety problem, with few market incentives for health systems to improve in this area. Leapfrog is grateful to the Moore Foundation for the support we need to galvanize change.” said Leah Binder, president and CEO of The Leapfrog Group.

Joining Leapfrog in leading this effort is SIDM, a nationally recognized organization focused on catalyzing efforts to improve diagnostic quality and safety, as well as convener of the Coalition to Improve Diagnosis, of which Leapfrog is a member. SIDM will develop resources to guide health systems and clinicians on improving diagnostic safety.

“Diagnostic errors are the most common, costly, and catastrophic of all medical errors.” said Paul L. Epner, CEO and Co-founder of SIDM. “We must do better as a country in assessing diagnostic performance and developing solutions that lead to diagnoses which are accurate, timely, and communicated to the patient.  We are excited to partner with a national leader in evaluating and recognizing quality like Leapfrog.”

“This new Leapfrog program will provide a significant step forward in defining diagnostic excellence and has the potential to make a real difference in tackling the difficult challenge of reducing diagnostic harm,” said Karen Cosby, MD, program officer at the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. “We are pleased to support this exciting endeavor.”

Recognizing Excellence in Diagnosis will be conducted over two years. As a first step, the initiative will convene an advisory group of Leapfrog and SIDM representatives, patient and payor stakeholders, and experts in diagnosis and performance analysis. With guidance from the advisory group, the project will identify best practices in diagnosis and put together a roadmap for hospitals and health systems to achieve excellence. SIDM will facilitate the development of training and educational materials to support hospitals and health systems in their adoption of the best practices. In year two, Leapfrog will pilot test a national survey, similar to the annual Leapfrog Hospital Survey, to collect data from up to 100 hospitals and health systems on their adoption of identified best practices. A national report will be issued on the current status of diagnostic safety, best practices for achieving excellence, and strategies for payors and patients to incentivize improvement.

Other key partners on the initiative include Hardeep Singh, MD, MPH, a patient safety researcher at Center for Innovations in Quality, Effectiveness and Safety (IQuESt) based at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center and Baylor College of Medicine, Houston; Mark L. Graber, MD, FACP, SIDM Founder and President Emeritus; and Matt Austin, PhD, Assistant Professor, Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality at Johns Hopkins Medicine.

“We are thrilled to work with SIDM, Drs. Hardeep Singh and Mark Graber, and our long-time research partner at Johns Hopkins, Dr. Matt Austin, to bring together leading researchers, innovative employers, and the boldest patient advocates,” said Leapfrog Vice President for Health Care Ratings Missy Danforth, who will direct the initiative.

“The harm associated with diagnostic error has been recognized for over a decade, and a host of interventions have been envisioned,” said Graber. “This project will directly target health care organizations and encourage them to adopt best practices aimed at improving the safety and quality of diagnosis.”

“The pandemic has further underscored the implications of diagnostic error, making this national initiative to accelerate implementation of safety practices very timely,” said Singh. “We can finally translate more than a decade of our diagnostic safety research into clinical care improvements.”


About The Leapfrog Group

Founded in 2000 by large employers and other purchasers, The Leapfrog Group is a national nonprofit organization driving a movement for giant leaps forward in the quality and safety of American health care. The flagship Leapfrog Hospital Survey and new Leapfrog Ambulatory Surgery Center (ASC) Survey collect and transparently report hospital and ASC performance, empowering purchasers to find the highest-value care and giving consumers the lifesaving information they need to make informed decisions. The Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade, Leapfrog’s other main initiative, assigns letter grades to hospitals based on their record of patient safety, helping consumers protect themselves and their families from errors, injuries, accidents, and infections.


About the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine (SIDM)
The Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine catalyzes and leads change to improve diagnosis and eliminate harm from diagnostic error. We work in partnership with patients, their families, the healthcare community and every interested stakeholder. SIDM is the only organization focused solely on the problem of diagnostic error and improving the accuracy and timeliness of diagnosis. In 2015 SIDM established the Coalition to Improve Diagnosis to increase awareness and actions that improve diagnosis. Members of the Coalition represent hundreds of thousands of healthcare providers and patients—and the leading health organizations and government agencies involved in patient care. Together, we work to find solutions that enhance diagnostic safety and quality, reduce harm, and ultimately, ensure better health outcomes for patients. Visit to learn more.


About the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation

The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation fosters path-breaking scientific discovery, environmental conservation, patient care improvements and preservation of the special character of the Bay Area. Visit and follow @MooreFound.

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