Skip Navigation Archive: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Archive: Agency for Healthcare Research Quality
Archive print banner

This information is for reference purposes only. It was current when produced and may now be outdated. Archive material is no longer maintained, and some links may not work. Persons with disabilities having difficulty accessing this information should contact us at: Let us know the nature of the problem, the Web address of what you want, and your contact information.

Please go to for current information.

Can You Minimize Health Care Costs by Improving Patient Safety?

Session 1: What Is the Business Case for Patient Safety?

Presentation by James Mortimer

Via the World Wide Web and telephone, this first session of a Web-assisted audio teleconference series occurred on September 20, 2002. The User Liaison Program (ULP) of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) developed and sponsored the program.

This is the text version for the slide presentation.

Slide 1

Image of James Mortimer, President of the Midwest Business Group on Health.

Slide 2

The estimated cost of poor quality health care:

  • The annual cost of the poor quality care per covered employee in 2002 is approximately $1700.

Slide 3

Health care quality problems result from:

  • Overuse.
  • Misuse.
  • Underuse.
  • Administrative waste and delays.

Slide 4


  • Preventable hospital-acquired infections.
  • An estimated two million individuals suffer from hospital-acquired infections each year, leading to nearly 90,000 deaths. Between one quarter and three quarters of these infections could have been prevented. (source: CDC Clinical Reports).
  • Estimated cost of poor quality equals $ 6.2 to $ 18.6 billion per year.

Slide 5

Major findings include:

  • Public and private purchasers bear responsibility by paying for poor care.
  • Public and private purchasers can take four specific steps to improve quality and reduce costs.

Slide 6

Responsible purchasing illustrated by an action cycle graphic composed of four parts:

  • Action set number 1 identify high priority problems.
  • Action set number 2 measure and improve performance.
  • Action set number 3 educate and inform consumers.
  • Action set number 4 reward high quality providers.

Slide 7

A CEO's Perspective

"Of course we are terribly dependent upon our employees for the operation of our business. But more than that, I personally believe we also have a moral obligation to our loyal workers to provide a safe workplace and safe health care."

—Dean Olson, president of Aircraft Gear, a precision parts manufacturing firm in Rockford, IL.

Current as of March 2003

Internet Citation:

Presentation by James Mortimer. Can You Minimize Health Care Costs by Improving Patient Safety? Session 1: What Is the Business Case for Patient Safety? Text Version. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.

Return to Teleconference Sessions>

The information on this page is archived and provided for reference purposes only.

AHRQ Advancing Excellence in Health Care