The Leapfrog Group on Wednesday released its Spring Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grades, giving about one-third of hospitals an "A," but giving more than 40% of hospitals a "C" or lower.
For the latest report, Leapfrog assigned "A" to "F" letter grades to general acute-care hospitals in the United States based on 13 process and structural measures and 15 outcome measures that represent medical errors, accidents, injuries, and infections.
The Leapfrog ratings, which are updated twice a year, focus on acute-care hospitals. The ratings do not cover facilities such as critical access hospitals, specialty hospitals, and federal hospitals because of missing data.
How hospitals performed
In the latest report, of the 2,619 hospitals graded:
- 832 hospitals earned an "A" rating;
- 681 earned a "B" rating;
- 938 earned a "C" rating;
- 159 earned a "D" rating; and
- 9 earned an "F" rating.
According to Leapfrog, 41 hospitals nationwide have received an "A" rating in each update since the ratings began in spring 2012.
What the grades really say about patient safety
Alongside the ratings, Leapfrog also published a white paper from the Johns Hopkins Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality that looks at the rates of avoidable deaths at hospitals for each grade.
The researchers found that, compared to patients at hospitals receiving an "A" rating, patients at hospitals receiving a:
- "D" or "F" rating have a 92% greater risk of avoidable death;
- "C" rating have an 88% greater risk of avoidable death; and
- "B" rating have a 35% greater risk of avoidable death.
Overall, the researchers estimated that, based on the latest Safety Group performance, 160,000 deaths occur each year from avoidable medical errors accounted for in Leapfrog's ratings. However, this is an improvement from 2016, when researchers estimated 205,000 avoidable deaths occurred.
Leah Binder, president and CEO of the Leapfrog Group, said, "The good news is that tens of thousands of lives have been saved because of progress on patient safety. The bad news is that there's still a lot of needless death and harm in American hospitals" (Leapfrog Group explanation of grades, accessed 5/15; Leapfrog Group methodology, accessed 5/15; Leapfrog release, 5/15; Armstrong/Derk, white paper, 5/15).
Cheat sheets: Learn how Leapfrog—and other ratings programs—actually work
Download our one page sheets for summaries on the methodology and metric categories used in seven hospital quality rating programs:
- Leapfrog Group Hospital Safety Grade
- CMS Overall Star Ratings
- Healthgrades Patient Safety Ratings and Excellence Awards
- US News and World Report Best Hospital Rankings