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Hospitals Rated on Patient Safety

More work needed on preventing errors, injuries, accidents, and infections, experts say

The Leapfrog Group, a national nonprofit organization promoting quality and safety in American health care, has released updated data for its Hospital Safety Score, which assigns A, B, C, D, and F grades to more than 2,500 U.S. hospitals based on their ability to prevent errors, injuries, accidents, and infections.

For the first time, the Hospital Safety Score website allows users to view a hospital’s current score alongside its previous scores over the past 3 years so that consumers can evaluate whether the hospital has maintained a consistently strong performance or shown a pattern of improvement. Leapfrog will also cite the 182 hospitals that consistently received an A grade for safety and will label each hospital with a “Straight A’s” logo on the Hospital Safety Score website.

“At a time when more than 1,000 people die every day from preventable accidents in hospitals, Leapfrog believes that patient safety should be job number one in every hospital, 24–7. To reinforce that goal of consistent vigilance, we’ve made it easier for patients and others to evaluate a hospital’s previous safety record on the Hospital Safety Score website,” said Leah Binder, Leapfrog president and CEO. “While patients should always reference a hospital’s current grade as the most important indicator of hospital safety, patients may also want to consider the hospital’s past record, to assess whether their hospital is making constant improvements or if the hospital has demonstrated consistent excellence.”

The findings from the Spring 2015 update to the Hospital Safety Score show that while hospitals have made statistically significant improvements since Fall 2014 on several pre- and post-surgery safety processes, as well as on the implementation of computerized medication prescribing systems, their performance on safety outcomes — including preventing errors, accidents and infections — has not significantly improved.

“Now that we’ve been collecting national hospital data over several years, we can examine not only how safe a hospital is now, but how consistently it maintains that patient safety focus over time. With 40 percent of hospitals receiving a C, D, or F grade, there is absolutely room for improvement,” said Binder.

Additional findings include the following:

  • Of the 2,523 hospitals issued a Hospital Safety Score, 782 (31%) earned an A; 719 (28%) earned a B; 859 (34%) earned a C; 143 (6%) earned a D; and 20 (1%) earned an F.
  • Overall, hospitals have improved on some of the Hospital Safety Score process measures since Fall 2014, including computerized medication prescribing systems, as well as on several safety process measures, such as administering proper antibiotics before surgery and discontinuing their use after surgery.
  • For the fourth time in a row, no hospitals in the District of Columbia received an A grade. In addition, neither North Dakota nor Arkansas had any hospitals with an A grade.
  • Maine claimed the number one spot for the state with the highest percentage of A hospitals for the third straight time, with 61% of its 18 scored hospitals receiving an A.A total of 45 hospitals (or less than 2%) changed by two or more grades since the Fall 2014 grading cycle, with 33 showing significant improvement and 12 showing significant decline.

The Hospital Safety Score is calculated by top patient-safety experts, peer-reviewed, fully transparent, and free to the public.

Source: Hospital Safety Score; April 29, 2015; and State Rankings; April 29, 2015.

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