Leapfrog grades hospitals—and some are in line for an 'F'

Nearly half of U.S. hospitals earned a 'C'

The Leapfrog Group for the first time has awarded hospitals letter grades for patient safety, doling out "C" grades to nearly half of the country's acute-care providers.

The not-for-profit quality organization rated 2,651 U.S. hospitals on an "A, B, C, D, or F" scale using Hospital Safety Scores determined by hospitals' responses to Leapfrog's voluntary survey and by their performance on 26 measures of publicly available hospital safety data. Measures included those related to patient injuries, medical errors, and infections.

Based on hospitals' scores, Leapfrog awarded:

  • An "A" to 729 hospitals;
  • A "B" to 679 hospitals;
  • A "C" to 1,111 hospitals; and
  • A "grade pending" to 132 hospitals.

The full list: How each hospital fares on patient safety

"The hospitals that achieved an A came from all walks of life, across the gamut of hospital types and people they serve," says Leapfrog Executive Director Leah Binder. For example, hospitals that received an "A" grade ranged from large academic medical centers like 955-bed Los Angeles-based Cedars-Sinai Medical Center to small community hospitals like 43-bed Lake Granbury Medical Center in Texas. "Safety appears to be something all hospitals can choose," Binder added.

According to Binder, Leapfrog plans to award "D" and "F" grades to hospitals (namely the "grade pending" hospitals) when the group updates its ratings in six months. She notes that, until now, no organization has awarded individual safety scores to most U.S. hospitals and included institutions that performed poorly.

Altogether, Leapfrog found that hospitals performed best on patient safety in Massachusetts and Maine, the only states where at least 70% of hospitals earned an "A." Meanwhile, the worst performers were the District of Columbia, Oregon, and New York, where at least two-thirds of hospitals earned a C or a "grade pending."

The Wall Street Journal 's "Health Blog" notes that Leapfrog awarded low grades to some of the nation's most well-reputed hospitals. However, some hospital leaders took issue with the use of self-reported questionnaires in the rating methodology; one chief quality officer noted that much of the data was at least one year old.

Meanwhile, the American Hospital Association (AHA) questioned the measures used to determine the scores. AHA "has supported several good quality measures, but many of the measures Leapfrog uses to grade hospitals are flawed and do not accurately portray a picture of the safety efforts made by hospitals," according to AHA VP Nancy Foster (Rau, "Capsules," Kaiser Health News, 6/6; Walker, MedPage Today, 6/6; Lee, Modern Healthcare, 6/6 [subscription required]; Leapfrog release, 6/6; Landro, "Health Blog," Journal, 6/6).

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