Leapfrog Group updates its controversial safety scores

Earlier this year, the nonprofit Leapfrog Group, run by employers and other large purchasers of health benefits, caused a stir when it released its Hospital Safety Score, which gives hospitals a letter grade based on their performance on 26 hospital safety measures.
Of the 2,652 hospitals to receive a score, 729 received an “A,” 679 earned a “B” and 1,243 earned a “C” or below. In Connecticut, 12 hospitals got a “C” and only four got an “A.”

Well, today Leapfrog released updated report cards and, in Connecticut at least, the news is mixed. The number of hospitals getting an “A” went up — to six. But the number of “C” hospitals also increased, to 13.

Nationwide, the numbers changed as well. Of the 2,618 hospitals issued a score, 790 received an “A,” 678 got a “B” and 1,004 earned a “C.”

The new grades represent a few changes, including the fact that the Leapfrog system now includes “D” and “F” ratings. Previously, the system stopped at “C.” In new rankings, 121 hospitals got a “D” and 25 earned an “F.” Happily, no Connecticut hospitals received Ds or Fs.

In addition to adding the D and F grades, the update also accounts for new data, and a modified methodology.

Some Connecticut hospitals benefited from the new system, including Stamford Hospital and Yale-New Haven Hospital, which both went from a “C” to a “B,” and Danbury Hospital, which got upgraded to an “A.” Others found themselves busted down a grade, including Greenwich Hospital, which went from an “A” to a “B.” Others stayed consistent, including St. Vincent’s Medical Center, which maintained its “A” and Bridgeport Hospital, which held on to its original “C.”

The measures used to determine the grades include rates of infections, falls, complications and other problems at hospitals, as well as adherence to safety practices, such as proper staffing levels and hand-washing. Leapfrog representatives have said that the point of the scores is to draw attention to the issue of hospital safety. At least 180,000 patients are killed every year from errors, accidents, injuries and infections in American hospitals.

However, some criticize these and other ranking systems saying that, while they can be a help in choosing a hospital, they shouldn’t be the only determining factor. At any rate, you can find the updated scorecard by visiting http://www.hospitalsafetyscore.org/.

Amanda Cuda