Hospital safety shows little progress

Leapfrog survey shows only one-in-three hospitals get an 'A'

A recent survey updating the Hospital Safety Score conducted by Leapfrog Group which assigns A through F letter grades for how well hospitals are addressing errors, accidents and infections that kill or hurt patients, shows only incremental progress over past reports.

Leapfrog Group President and CEO Leah Binder told Healthcare Finance News' sister publication, Healthcare IT News, she was “disappointed” in the slow progress. She added that the data are a year old, so she is hoping the next study will show much more improvement. Binder called on the consumers to press their hospitals for transparency and safety, and to be vigilant in healthcare settings.

"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." She added that many of the safety measures – washing hands to prevent infection, for instance, are "fairly inexpensive."

The Hospital Safety Score methodology is fully transparent, Binder notes, and it has been accepted for publication in the peer-reviewed Journal of Patient Safety.

The Leapfrog Group, a national nonprofit organization that administers the score, confirms this has contributed to a shift in how the U.S. states are ranked for hospital safety. With 80 percent of its hospitals receiving an "A," Maine edged out Massachusetts as the number one state for safety. leJoining Maine and Massachusetts in the “top five” ranking for number of "A" scores are Minnesota, Virginia and Illinois.

In the U.S., "roughly one in four of all hospitalized patients suffers some form of harm," according to industry studies.

"Safety is a 24/7, 365-day effort," says Binder. "This update of grades and accompanying change in state rankings should serve as a reminder that we are on an ongoing journey. Patient safety shouldn’t be merely a concern; it should be a priority. Everyone – including consumers, hospitals, patients, families of patients, unions and employers – has a role in improving safety in American hospitals."

Key findings: