November 7, 2019

The Leapfrog Group on Thursday released its Fall Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grades, giving about one-third of hospitals an "A," but giving more than 40% of hospitals a "C" or lower.

Your 1-page guide to understanding Leapfrog's rating metrics and methodologies

Methodology

For the 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, or federal hospitals—such as Veterans Affairs or Indian Health Services facilities—because of missing data.

How hospitals performed

In the latest report, of the 2,633 hospitals graded:

  • 878 earned an "A" rating;
  • 652 earned a "B" rating;
  • 896 earned a "C" rating;
  • 198 earned a "D" rating; and
  • 9 earned an "F" rating.

What the grades really say about patient safety

Alongside the ratings, Leapfrog also published an infographic 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 occurred in 2018 from avoidable medical errors accounted for in Leapfrog's ratings and that 50,125 lives could be saved each year if hospitals with a grade of B or lower improved their patient safety to that of A hospitals. However, the latest figure represents an improvement from 2015, when researchers estimated 205,000 avoidable deaths occurred.

Leah Binder, president and CEO of the Leapfrog Group, said, "Encouragingly, we are seeing fewer deaths from the preventable errors we monitor in our grading process." However, she added that "in the United States over 500 people a day die from preventable medical errors, infections, and injuries, and saving those lives should be the top priority of every hospital" (Leapfrog Group explanation of grades, 11/7; Leapfrog Group methodology, 11/7; Leapfrog release, 11/7; Binder, Leapfrog statement, 11/7; Leapfrog infographic, 11/7).

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