The Leapfrog Group has issued a ratings list of 2,652 hospitals in the USA, with “A” being the safest and “F” meaning the worst score. The authors of the report explained that hospital errors cause the death of about 400 patients each day in the United States; the equivalent of a large jet plane full of passengers crashing every day.

The Leapfrog Group, a non-profit, independent organization run by purchasers and employers of health benefits, created the Hospital Safety Score, which is based on patient safety. The organization says its league table is the first of its kind. The authors calculated hospital safety scores by gathering and examining data on medical errors, medication errors, patient injuries, and infections.

Leapfrog Group CEO, Leah Binder, said:

“The Leapfrog Group’s goal is to give patients the vital information they need and deserve before even entering a hospital. We hope people will use this score to talk with their doctor, make informed decisions about where to seek care, and take the right precautions during a hospital stay.”

The Leapfrog Group hope their report will help patients and others identify which are the best hospitals to be treated in, and the ones to avoid – bringing this silent safety epidemic to the country’s attention will save lives.

Recent studies have indicated that approximately one fourth of all Medicare patients who come out of hospital, do so with a potentially fatal issue; an issue they did not have before they came into hospital. For each hospitalized patient there is one medication error per day. Over 180,000 US patients die annually from infections, accidents and errors that occur in hospital.

Members of the public can visit the Hospital Safety Score website free of charge. The website also offers tips on how visitors can protect themselves and their loved ones during hospitalization.

David Knowlton, immediate past chair of The Leapfrog Group Board of Directors and chair of The Leapfrog Group’s Patient Safety Committee, said:

“The Leapfrog Group board has been frustrated with the lack of progress in improving patient safety, despite significant industry efforts over the past decade. It is time for a game changer. It’s time to give American families the heads-up they need to protect themselves if they face the need for a hospital stay.”

Below are some highlighted data from the report:

  • The Hospital Safety Score graded 2,652 hospital according to safety.

    – 729 received an “A” grade
    – 679 received a “B” grade
    – 1,243 received a “C” or below grade

  • Of those earning an “A” grade, not one class of hospital dominated the top level of safety, they included.

    – Academic medical centers, such as University of California San Francisco, NYU Langone Medical Center, and Massachusetts General
    – Several rural hospitals, such as Baptist Health South Florida Homestead Hospital, Grinnell Regional Medical Center in Iowa
    – Well known centers of excellence, such as University of Michigan Medical Center, Mayo Clinic, and Virginia Mason Medical Center
    – Hospitals in impoverished or highly vulnerable areas, such as Detroit Receiving Hospital, Bellevue Hospital, and Montefiore Hospital

  • Several for-profit hospitals also got the top grades, including a significant number in the HCA system
  • Hundres of not-for-profit and public hospitals also got top grades
  • Some community hospitals, such as OSF St. Joseph Medical Center in Illinois were awarded an “A” grade

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Massachusetts General Hospital earned an “A” grade – The state of Massachusetts had the best average grade for hospitals throughout the state

Some hospitals with pristine reputations did not earn an “A” – some of them did not even achieve a “C” grade.

Dr. Ashish Jha of Harvard, a member of the Blue Ribbon Expert Panel, said:

“The Hospital Safety Score exclusively measures safety – meaning errors, accidents, and infections. Even hospitals with excellent programs for surgical and medical care, state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment, and dedicated physicians may still need this score as a reminder that patient safety should be a top priority.”

Hospitals in Massachusetts on average scored the best, while the average lowest scores went to hospitals in the District of Columbia.

Dr. Jha said:

“Developing the Hospital Safety Score was an intensive nine-month process led by a group of patient safety experts from across the country, and we believe it resulted in a fair metric to assess a hospital’s performance on patient safety. There is an overwhelming amount of information out there that could be useful when we are admitted to the hospital, but very few of us know what it is or where to find it.

Everyone deserves the same information to protect their families. We’ve been glad to guide The Leapfrog Group in developing the Hospital Safety Score to give the public a way to guide their own decisions.”

Nancy Foster, vice president of quality and patient safety policy at the AHA (American Hospital Association), said:

“The American Hospital Association has supported several good quality measures, but many of the measures Leapfrog uses to grade hospitals are flawed and they do not accurately portray a picture of the safety efforts made by hospitals.”

Written by Christian Nordqvist