The stats regarding hospital safety are alarming. 33% of US patients end up suffering from Hospital Acquired Conditions. (Institute of Medicine) Critical care patients suffer from 2 medical errors per day. (Journal Of Critical Medicine) Furthermore, a recent study determined that up to 440,000 Americans die annually from preventable hospital errors – significantly higher than the quoted 98,000 by the Institute of Medicine – and is the third leading cause of death in the United States.
“We are burying a population the size of Miami every year from medical errors that can be prevented. A number of hospitals have improved by one or even two grades, indicating hospitals are taking steps towards safer practices, but these efforts aren’t enough.” said Leah Binder, president and CEO of Leapfrog, after the release of their Fall 2013 Hospital Safety Scorecards.
The Leapfrog Group Hospital Safety Score assigns A,B,C,D and F grades to more than 2,500 US general acute-care hospitals on how they address errors, accidents, injuries and infections that kill or hurt patients.
This year two new measures were added to the scoring criteria – Catheter-Associated Urinary Tract Infections and Surgical Site Infections: Colon – taking the total measures scored to 28. 15 are structural measures, such as whether the hospital has a full-time intensivist in the ICU, and 13 are preventable adverse outcome measures, such as a patient death or serious injury due to an intravascular air embolism or a retained surgical object.
This years results reported very little improvement in how well providers are preventing patient harm and increasing hospital safety.
Of the 2,539 hospitals issued a Hospital Safety Score, 813 earned an A, 661 earned a B, 893 earned a C, 150 earned a D, and 22 earned an F.
Amongst the scored hospitals, only 3.5 percent showed improvements of two or more letter grade levels.
Despite reporting only small levels of improvement, there was a noticeable increase in hospital adoption of computerized physician order entry, indicating successful efforts to improve hospital technology.
Statewide, Maine claimed the number one spot with the highest percentage of A hospitals, while New Mexico and the District of Columbia scored last with no A hospitals at all. Full state rankings can be found here.
Amongst the hospital systems operating nationwide, Kaiser and Sentara achieved straight A grades across their network, as 100% of their hospitals received an A rating.
While many providers, specifically those that scored lowest, are calling the scorecards outdated or inaccurate, the grades calculated by Leapfrog can serve as a source for patients to refer to when making decisions about where to receive care.
However, it begs to ask the question of whether or not the leading spender on healthcare is operating efficiently and at its maximum potential?