How safe is your hospital?

by Dr. Eowyn

The Leapfrog Group is an independent, non-profit national organization founded more than a decade ago by America’s leading employers and private health care experts.

In the interest of the safety, quality and affordability of health care in the U.S., Leapfrog advocates and promotes hospital transparency through its data collection and public reporting initiatives. Twice a year, in spring and fall, the organization measures the nation’s hospital performance, the results of which are released in its Leapfrog Hospital Survey — a trusted, transparent and evidence-based national tool in which over 2,600 general acute-care hospitals across the U.S. voluntarily participate free of charge. The Leapfrog Safety Grade is becoming the gold standard measure of patient safety, cited in MSNBCThe New York Timesand AARP The Magazine.

As Leah Binder, president and CEO of the Leapfrog Group, said in a press release: “Hospitals don’t all have the same track record, so it really matters which hospital people choose, which is the purpose of our Hospital Safety Grade.”

Leapfrog assign to hospitals safety grades of A to F, representing a hospital’s overall performance in keeping patients safe from preventable harm and medical errors. The Safety Grade includes 28 measures, all currently in use by national measurement and reporting programs. The Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade methodology has been peer reviewed and published in the Journal of Patient Safety.

Using 28 evidence-based measures of patient safety, Leapfrog calculates a numerical score for all eligible hospitals in the U.S. The numerical score is then converted into one of five letter grades:

  • A = The safest hospitals, with a numerical score greater than or equal to 3.151.
  • B = Hospitals with a numerical score less than 3.151, but greater than or equal to 2.965.
  • C = Hospitals with a numerical score less than 2.965, but
    greater than or equal to 2.502.
  • D = Hospitals with a numerical score between 1.5 standard deviations and 3.0 standard deviations below the mean.
  • F = Hospitals with a numerical score more than 3.0 standard
    deviations below the mean.

Patients at hospitals that receive “D” or “F” grades face a 92% greater risk of avoidable death compared to “A” hospitals. At “C” and “B” hospitals, patients on average face an 88% and a 35% greater risk respectively. Leapfrog estimates that if the risk at all hospitals was equivalent to what it is at “A” hospitals, 50,000 lives would have been saved. Overall, the researchers estimate that 160,000 lives are lost every year due to avoidable medical errors.

As an example, Valley Presbyterian Hospital in Van Nuys is one of the two hospitals in California which received an “F” grade — for its staff’s weak communication and responsiveness, handwashing, the spread of infections, and deaths from treatable complications. The other “F” hospital is Lompoc Valley Medical Center in Lompoc.

Here are the results of Leapfrog’s Spring 2019 hospital safety survey:

  • The numerical scores ranged between approximately 1.9 and 3.7.
  • The average score was approximately 3.0.
  • 32% of hospitals, numbering 832, received a grade of “A”.
  • 26% of hospitals (N=681) received a grade of “B”.
  • 36% of hospitals (N=938) received a grade of “C”.
  • 6% of hospitals (N=160) received a grade of “D”.
  • <1% of hospitals (N=9) received a grade of “F”.

To find out the safety rating of your hospital and those of other hospitals in your state, go here.

~Eowyn

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