Hospitals blast Leapfrog’s safety grades

Officials take issue with methodology, release timing

A number of hospital officials this week said that The Leapfrog Group’s new safety grades are skewed, failed to include data, and involved voluntary questionnaires that some of the nation’s leading organizations opted not to complete, the Wall Street Journal’s “Health Blog” reports.

Martin Ciccocioppo, vice president of the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania, told HealthLeaders that Leapfrog’s grading scale "looks at a plethora of data and tr[ies] to dumb it down to a few data points…this is not the way to drive a decision at which facility one should seek care.”

Expressing similar concerns, officials at Mount Sinai Medical Center called the rating methodology subjective and confusing for consumers. “It is an incomplete and imperfect snapshot, and much of the analysis is based on outdated information from disparate sources,” according to a statement from the New York City hospital.

In addition, Keith Woeltje, director of St. Louis-based BJC HealthCare’s clinical-advisory group, criticized Leapfrog’s use of self-reporting questionnaires. Shannon Phillips, a Cleveland Clinic quality and patient safety officer, said the ratings used outdated central-line infection data to rate the Ohio health organization because it opted out of Leapfrog’s survey in recent years.

However, Leapfrog CEO Leah Binder contended that opting out of the Leapfrog survey had no impact on a hospital’s rating. She notes that the group convened patient safety experts from Harvard University and Johns Hopkins University to craft the ratings.

Aside from the methodology, David Perrott, MD, senior vice president and chief medical officer for the California Hospital Association, also took issue with timing, contending that many hospitals were not given a chance to respond until hours before Leapfrog’s scorecard was publicly released (Clark, HealthLeaders Media, 6/7; Landro, “Health Blog,” Wall Street Journal, 6/7).

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