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Leapfrog's new safety grades: 800-plus hospitals get an A, but a few still get Fs

Maine was the state with the highest percentage of 'A' hospitals

Topics: Quality, Performance Improvement, Safety, Patient Satisfaction, Outcomes, Mortality, Appropriateness, Access to Care, Physician Issues

October 23, 2013

The Leapfrog Group this week released its fourth round of Hospital Safety Scores, and only 3.5% of hospitals significantly improved their grades since the third round was released in May.

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For its latest scores, the Leapfrog Group assigned letter grades—"A, B, C, D, or F"—to 2,539 hospitals based on Hospital Safety Scores determined by hospitals' performance on 28 safety measures. The group used data from the Leapfrog Hospital Survey, CDCCMS, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and the American Hospital Association's annual survey.

Since Leapfrog's May report, the group has added two new safety measures to its score methodology: rates of catheter-associated urinary tract infections and rates of surgical-site infections for major colon surgery.

In the latest report:

  • 813 hospitals received an "A" (compared to 780 hospitals in May);
  • 661 received a "B" (compared to 638 hospitals in May);
  • 893 received a "C" (compared to 938 hospitals in May);
  • 150 received a "D" (compared to 148 hospitals in May); and
  • 22 received an "F" (compared to 16 hospitals in May).

While 20% of hospitals improved their grades, Leapfrog President and CEO Leah Binder expressed disappointment with the latest scores, saying they reveal "little improvement in safety overall."

However, she notes that "there have been some extraordinary efforts at improving safety," citing initiatives such as HHS's $1 billion Partnership for Patients and highlighting a few hospitals that moved two entire safety grades in just six months. "It can be done," Binder acknowledged, adding, "We just want more than 3.5% to do it."

Leapfrog ranks states for hospital safety

Leapfrog also used the latest safety scores to rank U.S. states based on the percentage of hospitals in the state that received an "A" grade. The top five states were:

1. Maine (where 80% of hospitals received an "A")
2. Massachusetts (76%)
3. South Dakota (67%)
4. Illinois (53%)
5. Virginia (48%)

Meanwhile, the bottom five states were:

1. New Mexico (where 0% of hospitals received an "A")
1. District of Columbia (0%)
3. Nebraska (6%)
4. Arkansas (8%)
4. New Hampshire (8%)

Hospital official responds to rankings

Jeff Dye, president of the New Mexico Hospital Association, told Modern Healthcare that many of the state's hospitals did not participate in the survey, because they "see it as extortion to obtain a higher score." Moreover, he said that he is unconcerned by the state's rank because its hospitals have made dramatic strides in curbing preventable infections, limiting early elective deliveries, and meeting safety targets set by the Partnership for Patients.

Dye added that it is "worrisome that patients may use this, but we'll have to remind them that there are many sources of information" (McKinney, Modern Healthcare, 10/23 [subscription required]; Leapfrog report, 10/23).

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