The Leapfrog Group has responded to a lawsuit filed by a Chicago-area hospital that claims the organization gave it an inaccurate patient safety grade. In the filing, Leapfrog argues that Saint Anthony Hospital did not review its own data within the needed timetable.
Saint Anthony sued Leapfrog in November claiming that the group knowingly used inaccurate information to determine its patient safety grade in the fall. Saint Anthony's grade dropped from an "A" in the spring to a "C."
The hospital said Leapfrog explained that the grade was lowered because it only used electronic prescribing between 50% and 74% of the time. However, in the lawsuit, the hospital claims it actually uses e-prescriptions at least 95% of the time.
Leapfrog did not dispute that the information used to determine the hospital's grade could be inaccurate, but said in its affirmative defense (PDF) that Saint Anthony had four opportunities to view the data and request the opportunity to update it. Leapfrog said it established a timetable for all hospitals to follow so that data could be evaluated "under consistent conditions and in a uniform time frame."
"Leapfrog adheres to established and well-publicized policies and processes to maintain consistency and reliability in administering the program and calculating Safety Grades," the organization said in the court filing.
Leapfrog also said in the filing that all participating hospitals had two weeks in June to review their self-reported data before it was published online at the end of July. Hospitals were notified to review and update their surveys by Aug. 31, and on Sept. 13 were offered a three-week window to review the fall grades.
Leapfrog said in the court filing that Saint Anthony did log in to the system to view its data in October but made no changes. Hospitals were given another review period for the grades in mid-October, and Saint Anthony again had no response, according to Leapfrog.
The hospital contacted Leapfrog Group less than a week before the grades were set to be published to dispute their score, the organization said. Because of this, Leapfrog said the hospital is responsible for its own middling grade, but offered to assist Saint Anthony in filing future surveys to ensure the data is correct.
The lawsuit, Leapfrog said, is the hospital's "eleventh hour gambit to turn back the clock on a disappointing safety grade."
Critics of Leapfrog's safety grades have questioned its reliance on self-reported safety data. A University of Michigan study found that hospitals that self-reported compliance with Leapfrog's protocols did not necessarily have lower hospital-acquired infection rates or lower federal readmission penalties.