Leapfrog: Hospital safety has room for improvement

The latest Leapfrog Group study shows hospitals are making headway in addressing errors, accidents, injuries and infections that hurt or kill patients but overall progress is slow.

Leapfrog's updated hospital safety scores incorporated two new measures: catheter-associated urinary tract infections and colon-related surgical site infections. Combined, the two account for 18,000 deaths per year.

The report found:

  • On average, hospitals did not improve their reported performance except for expanding the use of computerized physician order entry;
  • Of 2,539 general hospitals, 813 scored an A rating, 661 scored a B, 893 scored a C, 150 scored a D and 22 scored an F;
  • While there was little safety improvement at hospitals overall, 3.5 percent of hospitals improved enough to bring their score up at least two grades;
  • Maine was the state with the greatest percentage of "A" hospitals; and
  • New Hampshire, Arkansas, Nebraska, New Mexico and the District of Columbia had the smallest percentage of "A" hospitals, with no "A" hospitals in the latter two.

Preventable hospital errors kills more than 400,000 Americans per year, making it the third leading cause of death in the United States, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

"We are burying a population the size of Miami every year from medical errors that can be prevented," Leah Binder, president and CEO of Leapfrog, said today in a statement. "A number of hospitals have improved by one or even two grades, indicating hospitals are taking steps toward safer practices, but these efforts aren't enough."

Leapfrog's rating methodology came under fire in January from Texas County Memorial Hospital (TCMH), which claimed its failing grade was derived from inaccurate and incomplete data, and that the hospital was misclassified as an urban hospital. Leapfrog defended its methodology, but retracted the hospital's failing score, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

TCMH CEO Wes Murray told FierceHealthcare that rather than a new rating, TCMH was seeking a formal apology and TCMH's removal from the Leapfrog scorecard.

To learn more:
- read the Leapfrog statement