Leapfrog Updates Hospital Safety Scores


The Leapfrog Group is a national nonprofit that works to empower patients by giving them transparent, empirical information with which to make decisions about where and how they access healthcare. The group has worked admirably to provide anyone seeking out healthcare the kind of unvarnished information many providers try to obscure.

One of the group’s major initiatives is ranking hospitals based on quality and safety metrics. They issue a Hospital Safety Score for more than 2,500 hospitals throughout the U.S., giving patients access to these scores to identify the best place to receive care.

A new set of scores was recently released, but with one notable difference from previous years. The Leapfrog Group is now publishing the current score, alongside the three previous scores. That small —but significant — change reveals whether a hospital is on the ascent or the decline, and to what degree.

The group points out that more than 1,000 people die everyday in the U.S. because of completely preventable hospital errors. The safety scores Leapfrog releases are just one tool that patients can use to identify where those errors are most likely to occur.

Diving into the scores reveals a number of interesting and important insights, some promising and others alarming. For instance, of the 2,523 hospitals that underwent evaluation, 782 earned an A, 719 earned a B, and only 20 earned an F. That suggests the quality of American hospitals is generally high, and that truly neglectful facilities are rare, but still present.

Also interesting was the fact that Maine had the highest concentration of facilities with an A grade. Conversely, Washington D.C., North Dakota, and Alaska had no facilities that scored an A grade. Reasons for this are complicated, and to some degree unknowable, but it’s still information that patients should be aware of if they live in any of those places.

Perhaps most troubling is the observation that hospitals have generally improved on some of the metrics included in the Hospital Safety Scores, but outcomes are not one of them. That suggests that safety measures have not had the kind of impact on patient health that was intended. These include computerized prescribing systems and perioperative safety process. Again, the causes are hard to pin down, but with this kind of hard data, healthcare stakeholders can recalibrate their efforts and achieve better outcomes.

This story is relevant in the world of HIM because it shows how important data is to the present and future of healthcare. There is no longer room for assumptions, preconceived notions, or received wisdom. Improving outcomes for all involved requires a total commitment to information gathering and analysis, meaning HIM professionals have a big role to play. Keep yourself on the cutting edge by partnering with the specialized recruiters at MedPartners.