The Leapfrog Group has released the second round of its biannual hospital safety scores, which show “sluggish” improvement in patient safety among the nation's hospitals.
Despite some improvement, Leapfrog says hospitals are performing worse in critical areas like the rate of foreign objects left in a patient after surgery and other critical measures that cause hospital acquired conditions. But 133 hospitals, about 5% of all graded facilities, have earned an A, the highest grade, in every score since spring 2012.
“That's a huge ask…only about 5% of hospitals achieve that and we'd love to see more, because consistency is one of the most important things,” said Jillian Laffrey, senior communications and membership coordinator for Leapfrog. Hospitals on the “Straight A” list had a range of sizes and business models.
Grades were pretty evenly distributed in this release, with 31% of hospitals scoring an A, 29% scoring a B and 34% of hospitals scoring a C. Among the 2,530 hospitals that were graded, 133 got a D, and 34 were given an F.
Due to an influx of new data, about 46% of hospitals changed at least one letter grade, according to Leapfrog. Performance on safety and process measures varied widely, the organization said.
Some hospitals have seen major improvement since scores were released in the spring. Beckley (W. Va.) Hospital, an 170-bed facility that's a part of the Appalachian Regional healthcare system went from a D score in April to an A in October, thanks to improvements in its computerized physician order entry system and better scores on falls and trauma, patient safety indicators and a rate of zero for central line infections, Leapfrog said.
Efforts to improve issues like hospital-acquired conditions don't have to be expensive or complicated, Laffrey said. Hand hygiene monitoring technology and UV infection systems sometimes work, but “it can also just be about good communication and good signage and that kind of thing and talking about it,” she said.
For the fourth time in a row, Maine has continued to rank as the state with the most A hospitals, with nearly 69% of the state's hospitals claiming an A. Zero hospitals received the top grade in Alaska, North Dakota, New Mexico, Vermont, Wyoming or Washington, D.C.
The peer-reviewed scores are calculated by the organization's patient safety experts mostly using data points from the CMS, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, as well as survey data from its own hospital survey. The organization has faced criticism from executives and physicians who say the Hospital Safety Score is biased against facilities who choose not to participate in the survey, which is often the case with nearly half of the hospitals graded.
Laffrey called the inclusion of survey results “somewhat of a point of contention,” but said the incorporation of survey responses won't necessarily help or hurt a hospital's score. It simply provides more data for graders to review, she said.