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Leapfrog report finds risk of death nearly doubles for patients in hospitals graded 'D' or 'F'

An estimated 160,000 lives are lost annually from avoidable medical errors, an improvement over 2016, which saw 205,000 avoidable deaths.

Susan Morse, Senior Editor

Of more than 2,600 acute-care hospitals graded by The Leapfrog Group, 32 percent earned an "A" in the spring 2019 Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grades report released today.

Forty-one hospitals nationwide achieved an "A" in every grading update since the system was launched in 2012.

Twenty-six percent of hospitals earned a "B," 36 percent earned a "C," 6 percent a "D" and just under 1 percent an "F."

By state, Oregon was ranked No. 1, with 58 percent of its hospitals achieving an "A" rating, followed by Virginia (53 percent), Maine (50 percent),  Massachusetts (48 percent), and Utah (48 percent).

In a tie for last place were Wyoming, Alaska, the District of Columbia, Delaware and North Dakota. There are no "A" hospitals in Wyoming, Arkansas, Washington, D.C., Delaware or North Dakota, the report said.

IMPACT

More than 400,000 people die annually due to preventable mistakes in hospitals, according to Leapfrog, citing the Journal of Patient Safety.

Overall, an estimated 160,000 lives are lost annually from the avoidable medical errors that are accounted for in the Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade, a significant improvement over 2016, when researchers estimated 205,000 avoidable deaths.

In conjunction with the safety grades, The Leapfrog Group contracted with the Johns Hopkins Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality to update its estimate of deaths due to errors, accidents, injuries and infections at all graded hospitals.

When compared to "A" hospitals, patients at "D" and "F" hospitals face a 92 percent greater risk of avoidable death, patients at "C" hospitals on average face an 88 percent greater risk, and patients at "B" hospitals face a 35 percent greater risk. Even 'A" hospitals are not perfectly safe, but researchers found they are getting safer, the report said.

If all hospitals had an avoidable death rate equivalent to "A" hospitals, 50,000 lives would have been saved, versus 33,000 lives that would have been saved by "A" level performance in 2016.

BACKGROUND

The Leapfrog Group is a national nonprofit representing the nation's largest and most influential employers and purchasers of healthcare. It began the ratings system in 2012 to reach consumers directly.

The Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade is released twice a year, in the spring and fall. The rating system is focused entirely on errors, accidents, injuries and infections. It is peer-reviewed and free to the public. Its methodology is reviewed by a national expert panel and receives guidance from the Johns Hopkins Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality.

ON THE RECORD

"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. "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."

Twitter: @SusanJMorse
Email the writer: susan.morse@himssmedia.com

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