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Open Access Short Report

Reducing potentially preventable complications at the multi hospital level

Ronald J Lagoe1*, Gert P Westert2, Anne Marie Czyz3 and Pamela E Johnson4

Author Affiliations

1 Hospital Executive Council, Syracuse, New York, USA

2 National Institute of Public Health and the Environment, Bilthoven, Netherlands

3 St. Joseph's Hospital Health Center, Syracuse, New York, USA

4 Community General Hospital, Syracuse, New York, USA

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BMC Research Notes 2011, 4:271  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-4-271

Published: 29 July 2011



This study describes the continuation of a program to constrain health care costs by limiting inpatient hospital programs among the hospitals of Syracuse, New York. Through a community demonstration project, it identified components of individual hospital programs for reduction of complications and their impact on the frequency and rates of these outcomes.


This study involved the implementation of interventions by three hospitals using the Potentially Preventable Complications System developed by 3M™ Health Information Systems. The program is noteworthy because it included competing hospitals in the same community working together to reduce adverse patient outcomes and related costs.

The study data identified statistically significant reductions in the frequency of high and low volume complications during the three year period at two of the hospitals. At both of these hospitals, aggregate complication rates also declined. At these hospitals, the differences between actual complication rates and severity adjusted complication rates were also reduced.

At the third hospital, specific and aggregate complication rates remained the same or increased slightly. Differences between these rates and those of severity adjusted comparison population also remained the same or increased.


Results of the study suggested that, in one community health care system, the progress of reducing complications involved different experiences. At two hospitals with relatively higher rates at the beginning of the study, management by administrative and clinical staff outside quality assurance produced significant reductions in complication rates, while at a hospital with lower rates, management by quality assurance staff had little effect on reducing the rate of PPCs.