Leapfrog Group defends hospital safety scores amid provider criticism

After a rash of criticism from poorly performing hospitals, Leapfrog Group's CEO released a statement regarding the nonprofit's hospital safety scores, telling providers not to shoot the messenger.

Leah Binder on Tuesday said she expected backlash for the hospitals' "PR machines" when the Leapfrog Group released its scores on 2,600 general hospitals last month, rating them on errors, injuries, accidents and infections.

In June, the group released its first scores on 2,652 hospitals, ranging from the highly desired A to the dreaded F. More than 1,200 facilities earned a C or below.

The scores haven't been well received by many hospitals, including the American Hospital Association. The trade group, which represents 5,000 hospitals in the country, suggested Leapfrog's scoring is inaccurate and biased and that Leapfrog even manipulated the data.

Leapfrog defended its scoring, and Binder maintains the patient safety data is from 2011 and not outdated, as critics have suggested.

"Many hospitals with low grades became so absorbed in attacking Leapfrog that they forgot to emphasize the importance of patient safety in general," Binder said in the statement. "The goal of the Hospital Safety Score is not to point fingers, but to quickly move our country to an era when every hospital in America is safe," she added.

"We don't claim perfection, but we have produced a first-class indicator of the relative safety of a hospital. We will continue to consult with experts and update the scores to reflect the latest science."

The Leapfrog Group yesterday announced it partnered with Johns Hopkins' Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality on its scoring methodology.

Patient safety advocate Peter Pronovost, senior vice president of quality and safety at Johns Hopkins Medicine, said patients have a right to accurate hospital safety and quality data to make better consumer choices.

Calling the methodology an "ever-evolving list of quality and safety indicators," the Armstrong Institute said it will assess measures, such as whether newborns receive recommended screenings and how often workers wash their hands, according to the announcement.

For more information:
- see the statement from the Leapfrog CEO
- read the Johns Hopkins announcement
- here's the Hospital Safety Score website
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