How hospitals score on patient safety

While many US facilities get top ratings, the most common is a C, and major improvements have been slow in coming.

By Bruce Kennedy May 13, 2013 10:22AM

Surgery (© Corbis)Leapfrog Group, an independent nonprofit health care quality organization, issued its Spring 2013 update to its Hospital Safety Score last week. The report issued A to F grades to more than 2,500 general hospitals in the U.S. regarding patient safety (Leapfrog provides a tool you can use to compare how hospitals fared).


A 2010 report by the Department of Health and Human Services said more than 25% of patients suffered adverse or temporary harm while in the hospital. Leah Binder, Leapfrog's president and CEO, said the HHS study should serve as a reminder that patient safety needs to be a health care priority.


"Everyone -- including consumers, hospitals, patients, families of patients, unions and employers -- has a role in improving safety in American hospitals," she said in a press release.


The study found Maine is the top state for hospital safety, with 80% of its facilities receiving an A. The other members of the top five states, all with A ratings, are Massachusetts, Minnesota, Virginia and Illinois.


The states with the lowest percentage of A-rated hospitals are Nevada, Kansas, Oregon, West Virginia and New Mexico.


Of the 2,514 general hospitals scrutinized, 780 earned a top rating, while 638 received a B, 932 got a C, 148 earned a D and 16 hospitals got an F.


And while nearly 74% of hospitals in the study maintained the same safety score they received in November 2012, about 2% showed dramatic change, moving two or more levels either up or down.


The study found no one class of hospitals dominated when it came to the highest safety scores. Rural hospitals, including Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, Pa., and Blessing Hospital in Quincy, Ill., were awarded an A, as was Detroit Receiving Hospital, which serves inner-city patients.


Binder told Healthcare IT News that she's disappointed in the lack of progress on hospital safety and that it's up to consumers to demand greater transparency and improved safety measures.


"The American public has to put pressure on hospitals," she said. "What that does is drive the market, and the market drives motivation, and motivation is more important than money."


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