​​​​​​​Leapfrog gives a third of U.S. hospitals an 'A' for safety

Hospital entance
The majority of hospitals ranked by Leapfrog earned a "C" grade or better from the group. Image: Getty/monkeybusinessimages

The Leapfrog Group has released its latest update to its safety gradesand the vast majority of hospitals earned a passing grade.

More than 2,600 U.S. hospitals were graded for the report, and of those 823 earned an “A” ranking. The largest group was “C” grades, with 933 ranked at that level. There are 706 “B” rank hospitals, and 167 hospitals earned a “D” from Leapfrog. Just 10 were rated with an “F.”

The scores are searchable by state. A sampling of results:

  • In the Atlanta, Georgia, region, four hospitals, including the public safety-net Grady Memorial, got a "D" grade. Five, including Cartersville Medical Center, earned an "A."
  • In Boston, no hospital scored lower than a "C." Twenty-three earned the top grade, including Massachusetts General Hospital.
  • In Tennessee, only Nashville General Hospital scored a "D," while six hospitals, including three Tristar Health facilities, earned an "A."

Leapfrog’s report takes 30 safety measures defined by the group or by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and compiles them into a composite score. Data from the American Hospital Association’s annual survey and its health information technology supplement are also used. Factors focus on safety efforts like infection control and staffing.

The findings show that hospitals have made significant safety strides, but there is more work to be done, Leapfrog CEO Leah Binder said in an announcement.

“When we launched the Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade in 2012, our goal was to alert consumers to the hazards involved in a hospital stay and help them choose the safest option. We also hoped to galvanize hospitals to make safety the first priority day in and day out,” Binder said. ”So far, we’ve been pleased with the increase in public awareness and hospitals’ commitment to solving this terrible problem. But we need to accelerate the pace of change, because too many people are still getting harmed or killed.”

The number of hospitals earning an “A” is down a bit from 844 grades released in October, but the figures are fairly consistent with the previous two years. The number of hospitals receiving an “F” has decreased from 34 in October 2015 and 20 last fall.

The report also ranks states by which had the most “A”-ranked hospitals, and Maine tops the list with 68.8% of its hospitals earning an “A.” Maine is the only state to remain in the top five for every report since Leapfrog launched its safety grades in 2012. Rounding out the top five are Hawaii (66.7%), Oregon (59.4%), Wisconsin (57.9%) and Idaho (54.5%).

A recent study from the University of Michigan called the effectiveness of Leapfrog’s methodology into question, finding that the rankings’ use of self-reported data could allow providers to “game” the system. Leapfrog said that it grades on a curve and independently verifies self-reported information to stymie attempts to skew the numbers.

In tandem with the rankings, Leapfrog has released a tool to allow employers and purchasers to calculate the costs, in both lives and funds, that they pay when providers commit medical errors. A similar tool was released in 2013, but has since been updated to include the human cost, too, Leapfrog announced.