Leapfrog: Hospital safety improves, but patient safety hazards still lurk

The Leapfrog Group updated its hospital safety rankings, and despite some improvements, hazards persist even among more prestigious healthcare institutions, according to an announcement from the hospital scoring group.

Nearly one in three hospitals improved their performance by 10 percent or more since 2012, according to the Leapfrog Group's Spring 2014 update, with most of the improvements related to safe practices or processes, such as better staffing levels and training for nurses, hand hygiene and improved antibiotic administration.

Leapfrog also found that:

  • Of the 2,522 scored hospitals, 804 scored an A, 668 scored a B, 878 scored a C, 150 earned a D and 22 scored an F in safety

  • Forty-eight states improved their 2012 mean scores

  • Maine once again had the largest proportion of A-scoring hospitals (74 percent)

  • New Mexico and New Hampshire increased their percentage of A hospitals from fall 2013

"The data tells us that more hospitals are working harder to create a safe environment, and that's good news for patients," Leapfrog President and CEO Leah Binder said in the statement. "Since a ream of disappointing studies suggested that through 2010 progress in patient safety was virtually zero, the fact that we are seeing results now is notable. It's a reflection of the ability to galvanize change in healthcare transparency via the Hospital Safety Score and other efforts."

Although the improvements are encouraging, Binder said, progress cannot stagnate, especially with hospital-acquired infections affecting one in 25 patients. "An institution could have the best surgeons in the world, but if the aftercare is lacking and the patient develops an infection as a result, then the hospital has failed to protect its patient." Binder said in the statement. The issue is especially important as 8 million newly insured Americans search for healthcare providers under the Affordable Care Act, she said. 

To learn more:
- here's the statement
- check out the safety scores