October 24, 2013
By Michael McLafferty, CPA, MBA, FACHE, FHFMA, FACMPE
The Leapfrog Group has released its fourth round of safety scores, showing that most hospitals made scant progress in addressing preventable medical errors and injuries since the organization issued its last update in May.
The scoring program, launched in June 2012, assigns hospitals a letter grade—A, B, C, D or F—based on publicly available safety data from the CMS' Hospital Compare, the Leapfrog Group's annual hospital survey and the American Hospital Association.
Leapfrog, an employer-backed safety group, says the grades serve as an easy-to-use tool for patients to use when making decisions about where to seek care and as a driver to boost hospital performance.
But the safety scoring program has drawn intense criticism from hospitals, many of which argue the grades don't fairly represent the quality of care their organizations deliver.
This latest update assigned scores to 2,539 hospitals, up slightly from the 2,514 that received grades in the last update. Of those, 813 received an A, 661 received a B, 893 received a C, 150 received a D and 22 received an F.
The total number of quality measures used to determine the scores to 28: 15 process and structural measures, including preoperative antibiotics; and 13 outcomes measures, such as rates of late-stage pressure ulcers and postoperative respiratory failure. Most of the data are from 2012, Leapfrog said.
Binder referred to a September study in the Journal of Patient Safety estimating that the number of annual deaths attributable to preventable medical harm could be as high as 440,000—far higher than the often-cited 98,000 figure from the Institute of Medicine's landmark “To Err is Human” report.