Not all hospitals are created equal.
That’s why the nonprofit The LeapFrog Group, which advocates for transparency in U.S. healthcare, assigns safety grades to thousands of hospitals across the country twice a year. These rankings are a useful tool for both patients choosing where they’d like to receive their care — and for healthcare professionals interested in improving their own job performance.
To grade 2,600 general acute-care hospitals across the country, Leapfrog’s system relies on data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the Leapfrog Hospital Survey (for which hospitals voluntarily disclose their safety data) and other supplemental sources. The final grade, which ranges between A and F, reflects 28 measurements of hospital safety — including rates of infections and patient falls, quality of communication between patients and staff, practices to prevent errors, and more. Learn more about the methodology at the Leapfrog website.
This year’s spring rankings came out last week and they included several interesting revelations. Namely, patients at D, and F hospitals are up to 92 percent more likely to die from an avoidable error than patients at A hospitals. (For C hospitals that number was 88 percent, and for B it was 35 percent.) For context, Leapfrog researchers found that if all U.S. hospitals were at the A level, about 50,000 lives would be saved every year. This year, some 160,000 people died from medical errors (for which there is publicly available data).
While that number is sobering, it’s a drastic improvement from 2016’s estimate of 205,000 lives lost from avoidable mistakes at hospitals.
“The good news is that tens of thousands of lives have been saved because of progress on patient safety. The bad news is that there’s still a lot of needless death and harm in American hospitals,” said Leah Binder, president and CEO of the Leapfrog Group, in a statement. “Hospitals don’t all have the same track record, so it really matters which hospital people choose, which is the purpose of our Hospital Safety Grade.”
Other findings include:
- The grade-percentage breakdown: 32 percent earned an A, 26 percent a B, 36 percent a C, 6 percent a D and a little less than 1 percent an F
- Oregon, Virginia, Maine, Massachusetts and Utah have the highest percentage of A-ranked hospitals with 58 percent, 53 percent, 50 percent, 48 percent and 48 percent respectively.
- Wyoming, Alaska, Washington, D.C., Delaware or North Dakota have no A hospitals.
Last updated on 10/2/19.