Hospitals making minimal but sustained headway on patient safety

New hospital safety report cards show incremental progress on keeping patients safe from infections, injuries and errors, according to a Leapfrog announcement released today.

In the spring update, Leapfrog gave 2,514 general hospitals a safety score, with 780 earning an A and 638 earning a B. However, the updated survey showed more than 1,000 hospitals scored poorly for patient safety: 932 received a C, 148 earned a D and 16 earned an F.

But about 73.9 percent of hospitals got the same letter grade as in the November 2012 report card, suggesting well-maintained safety efforts.

High-scoring hospitals welcomed the evaluation, such as Kaiser Permanente and its 32 A-graded hospitals. "This high mark speaks to our long-standing commitment to providing the highest quality of care, placing patient safety at the centerpiece," Edward M. Ellison, M.D., executive medical director for the Southern California Permanente Medical Group, said today in a statement.

The news wasn't good for Kaleida Health in New York, which received a D, The Buffalo News reported. However, Leapgfrog graded four Kaleida Health hospitals as one unit, giving all of them the same mark as if they each performed the same for all 26 measures, the article noted.

The scores usually elicit criticism from low-scoring hospitals, slamming Leapfrog's scoring methodology as inaccurate, biased and incomplete.

To help fend off provider criticism of the safety scores, Leapfrog has made its methodology fully transparent and published it in the peer-reviewed Journal of Patient Safety, the Sun Sentinel reported.

Even with claims of questionable scoring, the publicly reported safety and quality grades could still promote better care. For instance, just knowing that patients can see how well providers deliver on measures of quality care motivates large practices to work on improving quality, according to a study in the March issue of Health Affairs.

For more:
- here's the announcement and peer-reviewed methodology (.pdf)
- check out the new scorecards
- read the Sun Sentinel article
- here's the Buffalo News article
- read the Kaiser statement