Leapfrog Group Grades Hospitals on Patient Safety

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Healthcare Consumer Update

EDITOR’S NOTE: A new hospital scorecard has been developed by the Leapfrog Group, a non-profit employer-sponsored organization that promotes improvements in the safety of health care by giving consumers data to make more informed hospital choices. The new “Hospital Safety Score” is based primarily on publicly available hospital quality and safety data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid’s Hospital Compare website, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Leapfrog Hospital Survey.

Leapfrog reviewed 2,651 facilities across the country and generated a report card for each, with an A, B, C, D or F letter grade. 729 hospitals got an A, 679 a B, 1,111 earned a C, and 132 have a “Grade Pending,” indicating that they really got a D or an F.

Because participation in the Leapfrog Group’s Hospital Survey is strictly voluntary, specific data related to the survey, upon which the single letter score is partially based, is missing for the many hospitals that do not participate.  Also, many hospitals no longer participate in the survey because of concerns that some of the data related to the measures Leapfrog collects is not validated and is prone to the reporting hospital’s interpretation. 

In FAQs on their website related to the Hospital Safety Score, Leapfrog states, “The more data points a hospital has to be scored on, the better its opportunity to achieve a higher score.”   The fact that the data sets used to calculate a grade may be different from one hospital to the next throws a pall over the grading methodology.

Although touted as a way for healthcare consumers to check out which hospitals are the least, and which ones the most, likely to cause avoidable patient harm, single letter grades do not begin to address the complexity of the data and certainly should not be used as a soul source of decision making related to hospital choice.

It also should be noted that the Leapfrog Group has clearly used the new grading system in a proprietary manner.  A licensing fee between $7,000 and $30,000, depending on hospital size, is required from the hospital for promotion of the safety grade beyond a press release and internal communications.  

Hospital Safety Scores for Space Coast Hospitals:

Cape Canaveral Hospital–B

Holmes Regional Medical Center–C

Parrish Medical Center–A

Sebastian River Medical Center–A

Wuesthoff Medical Center, Melbourne–C

Wuesthoff Medical Center, Rockledge–B

(Viera Hospital and Palm Bay Hospital will be graded in the future, but at his time did not have sufficient data submitted to the agencies from which data was used for the grade.)

WASHINGTON–For the first time, hospitals across the nation have been given letter grades indicating how well, or poorly, they perform on measures of patient safety, and the American Hospital Association isn’t happy about it.

The Leapfrog Group, a nonprofit quality-improvement organization, has ranked more than 2,600 hospitals and given them scores based on an “A, B,C, D, or F” scale for hospital safety on its free site Hospitalsafetyscore.org.

The score is based on Leapfrog’s own voluntary surveys as well as 26 measures of publicly available hospital safety data, including how often patients in a particular hospital fall, get central line-associated bloodstream infections, develop severe pressure ulcers, and have preventable complications from surgery.

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