Hospitals stagnate on patient safety outcomes

The Leapfrog Group's latest hospital safety scores now allow users to see how facilities scored over time, and the data show that hospitals still have much room for improvement when it comes to keeping patients safe.

Leapfrog gave 782 of the 2,523 hospitals an "A" for patient safety and 719 a "B". But 859 earned a "C," 143 received a "D" and 20 earned an "F". 

Compared to the fall 2014 scores, Leapfrog said hospitals improved in four safety processes, yet showed no statistically significant improvement on any of the outcome-based measures, such as hospital-acquired infections. This represents a bit of backslide, as between spring 2014 and fall 2014, hospitals improved on all 15 process measures and improved on one outcome-based measure--the prevention of central-line-associated bloodstream infections, FireceHealthcare previously reported.

"Now that we've been collecting national hospital data over several years, we can examine not only how safe a hospital is now, but how consistently it maintains that patient safety focus over time," Leapfrog CEO Leah Binder said in the announcement. "With 40 percent of hospitals receiving a 'C,' 'D' or 'F' grade, there is absolutely room for improvement."

The new feature that allows users to see hospitals' past grades reveals that some have fluctuated over time. NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, for instance, received a "B" in the latest grading cycle, but received an "A" throughout 2014, "Cs" in 2013, and a split in 2012, with an "A" in the fall and a "C" in the spring. Overall, though, fewer than 2 percent of hospitals changed by two or more grades since fall 2014, according to Leapfrog.

The company also compares hospital safety scores on a geographic level, specifically ranking states according to their percentage of A scores. For example, though Maine remains a high achiever--with the most "A" scores for the third straight year--around 25-30 percent of hospitals achieved "As" in most states.

Leapfrog calculates its safety scores by pooling results from its own survey, along with data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, according to its Hospital Safety Score website. The newest batch of safety scores comes in the wake of a Health Affairs study last month that criticized Leapfrog and groups like U.S. News & World Report and Healthgrades for publishing often-conflicting hospital rankings.

To learn more:
- check out the safety score website
- read the announcement
- see the state rankings