January 2013 Clinical Laboratory News: Volume 39, Number 1
U.S. Hospitals Underperform on Patient Safety Measures
An update to the Hospital Safety Score released by The Leapfrog Group revealed that while some hospitals reliably deliver safe healthcare, many still lag in their ability to protect patients from preventable medical errors, injuries, accidents, and infections.
Launched in June 2012, the Hospital Safety Score uses 26 measures of publicly available hospital safety data to assign an A, B, C, D, or F score to U.S. hospitals. This new update to the report summarizes data from the past 6 months that was collected from 2,618 hospitals and primarily covers their performance in 2011. On the Hospital Safety Score website, Leapfrog recommends consumers go to hospitals that received an A rating; however, of the hospitals studied, only 30% earned this top score, with 6% getting a D or F score. These two lowest grades are new additions to the Hospital Safety Score rankings and denote hospitals with the most hazardous environments for patients.
Though these numbers are far from optimal, Leapfrog’s findings were not all negative. For instance, hospitals of all classes—teaching, public, and specialty—earned As, with no one type dominating the highest safety scores. Another promising discovery was that not only nationally acclaimed hospitals earned As, but also hospitals serving highly vulnerable, impoverished, and health-challenged populations.
Leapfrog also analyzed statewide performance. Hospitals in Massachusetts and Maine topped the list of those garnering As, at 83% and 80%, respectively.
With 180,000 patients dying annually from errors and infections, the lack of attention to patient safety in U.S. hospitals remains a grave problem, according to the report’s authors. Through the Hospital Safety Score, Leapfrog aims to help consumers make informed decisions about where to seek care and drive the market toward making patient safety a greater priority.