Leapfrog doles out safety grades: How did you score?

Group updated its grading methodology

The Leapfrog Group on Wednesday awarded letter grades for patient safety to 2,618 U.S. hospitals, giving nearly 150 facilities "D" and "F" grades for the first time.

The not-for-profit quality organization graded hospitals on an "A, B, C, D, or F" scale using Hospital Safety Scores determined by hospitals' performance on 26 measures of hospital safety data from the Leapfrog Hospital Survey, CDC, CMS, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and the American Hospital Association's Annual Survey.

Based on hospitals' scores, Leapfrog awarded:

  • An "A" to 790 hospitals;
  • A "B" to 678 hospitals;
  • A "C" to 1,004 hospitals;
  • A "D" to 121 hospitals; and
  • An "F" to 25 hospitals.

Massachusetts' and Maine's hospitals outperformed hospitals in other states, with 83% and 80% receiving "A"s, respectively. Meanwhile, hospitals in South Carolina, Illinois, and Texas were more likely than hospitals in any other state to receive an "F".

Leapfrog released the first version of the Hospital Safety Scores in June, but did not distribute "D" or "F" grades to any hospitals, instead noting a "grade pending" for 132 facilities. For its newest list, Leapfrog updated the methodology for a measure linked to computerized physician order entry and for a measure linked to physician staffing in the ICU.

Since June, Leapfrog found that:

  • 58% hospitals kept the same grade;
  • 23% raised their grade; and
  • 19% lowered their grade.

According to Leapfrog President and CEO Leah Binder, the ratings show that the health care industry is demonstrating improvement, but change is not happening "fast enough."

In the past, a number of hospital officials have taken issue with Leapfrog's safety grading methodology, saying that the group relies too heavily on voluntary questionnaires and fails to include pertinent data (Leapfrog release, 11/28; Leapfrog methods, 11/27; Barr, Modern Healthcare, 11/28 [subscription required]; Rao, "Capsules," Kaiser Health News, 11/28; Terhune, Los Angeles Times, 11/28).

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